Crawford County Voters To Decide On New Jail Through Sales Tax

Crawford County residents on Tuesday will vote whether to fund a new jail through sales tax money. Officials say a new jail is needed because of overcrowding problems at the Crawford County Detention Center.

Law enforcement in Crawford County hope voters approve the potential $20 million facility.

“It`s a three-quarter cent sales tax increase,” Crawford County Sheriff Rob Brown said. “Half cent to build it, which was set from seven to 10 years maximum, and a quarter of a cent, which will be continuous to operate the facility.”

Crawford County Judge John Hall said this is the fourth time a new jail will be up for vote. Proposals to fund a new jail have been defeated at the polls three times.

“This is an issue we`ve got to deal with, and we have no other funding source,” Hall said.

If approved, the jail would house 300 inmates on U.S. 64 just outside of Van Buren.

“We`ve told them where it`s going to be built,” Brown said, “what it`s going to cost, what we are going to do with the old facility. I don`t think those questions were ever answered in the last elections.”

As voters prepare to hit the polls, some in the area said they are not going to vote for the sales tax increase.

“I’d vote against it. It’s hard economic times right now for everybody,” said Edgar Estes. “We don’t need more taxes.”

Brown said the jail is under probation for overcrowding and insufficient staffing.

“If (the proposal) does not pass, what`s going to happen is all these people that are going to be incarcerated is going to have to be sent somewhere out of county,” Hall said.

Brown remains hopeful the vote will pass.

“They`re looking at breaking ground in March of 2015, and it will take about 18 to 20 months to complete the facility,” Brown said.


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