Lower sales tax means lower revenue for Comanche County Detention Center

Comanche County_If you live in Comanche County, you got a tax cut at the beginning of the year. But chances are you might not have noticed it. That quarter-cent sales tax that paid for the construction of the Comanche County Detention Center ended.  But it was replaced by an eighth-cent tax to pay for jail operations.  This slight decrease won't make a big difference in your budget, but it will in the county's budget.

The lower tax will generate money for the jail, but not enough. "It should generate approximately one and half million dollars but the cost to operate the jail is about 2.6 million dollars," said County Commissioner Ron Kirby. That means that the county has to come up with other ways to make up for the loss so that the jail can operate effectively. One comes from the Comanche Nation.

The Comanche County Detention Center used to hold the Comanche Nation's inmates as a courtesy -- but the tribe wanted a contract -- and the county agreed.

"It helped the Comanche Nation in being able to house someone with medical and everything being taken care of and it generated revenue that Comanche County had not been receiving," said jail administrator Dale Cagle.

The other is a federal grant called "SCAAP", which stands for State Criminal Alien Assistance Program. The money from this grant will go towards training officers in cultural diversity. It'll also teach them other languages so that they can communicate with the inmates. "A lot of them do not speak English so I added other languages that can benefit the officers so they can perform their task in processing someone," said Cagle.

But that would still leave the county about $200,000 short.  If the county cannot generate enough money from the sales tax, it has set aside some money, but commissioners say that will only last 4 to 6 months. So is another tax increase an option? "No. There will be no increase in taxes. We do not expect to have to go back to the voters," said Kirby.

Another option was mentioned -- charge inmates for jail procedures, such as booking and fingerprinting. But so far, that's just an idea.