Cass County may end jail sales tax early
Cass County commissioners will decide Monday whether to bring an early end to the sales tax used to finance the new jail. The half-cent sales tax was approved by voters to run from Oct. 1, 1999, through Sept.
Cass County commissioners will decide Monday whether to bring an early end to the sales tax used to finance the new jail.
The half-cent sales tax was approved by voters to run from Oct. 1, 1999, through Sept. 30, 2003.
Monday's vote would end sales tax collections effective March 31.
"Basically, we'll have collected enough money by that time to accomplish everything we wanted to accomplish with the sales tax," County Auditor Mike Montplaisir said.
That includes not just building the jail, equipping it and training staff, but also setting aside enough money for future expansion, Montplaisir said.
The jail fund, currently at $1.1 million, will have about $3 million in it by the end of March, he said. That would be more than enough to add two additional 48-bed housing units, or pods, which normally are added two at a time.
There are no plans to do that right now; "it'll depend on jail population," Montplaisir said.
County officials anticipated that would possibly have to be done within a decade and structured the sales tax to provide enough money for it, he said.
County commissioners expected sales tax collections to end after $24 million was raised or after four years, whichever was sooner.
The initial plan anticipated no growth in sales tax collections, which actually have increased about 3 or 4 percent a year, Montplaisir said.
And because the jail cost $18 million, in line with original cost estimates, the fund reached the required level before the four year limit had expired.
Collections have been so steady that the county didn't need to borrow any money for the jail, Montplaisir said.
The state Tax Department told him this was the first time an entity ever ended a sales tax, much less ended it early.
"When I called the state Tax Department to find out the procedure, they just kind of scratched their heads," he said.
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