Before supporting the proposed jail and sheriff’s facility, there are several details to consider. The county board members are proposing repayment with a one-half percent sales tax increase that would then equal Peru.
The tax would be in addition to the previous one-half percent sales tax, totaling 1 percent for the Sheriff’s Department, while Peru’s 7.5 percent has one-half percent going for education, not 1 percent for housing prisoners that will partly be coming off the interstate and may not even be residents of Bureau County.
Perhaps non-residents from the interstate should be housed in a federal facility and not be at the expense of Bureau County taxpayers.
Housing prisoners is the last thing we need in Princeton. The reason is very clear. They don’t get returned to where they came from when they are released, but rather just released out the back door, only to shack up with any willing female, and then we have one more in the cart.
The population of Bureau County has been steadily on the decline with a previous 36,000 down to around 30,600. Will the population be down to 25,000 in the next 10 years?
The county board did not do their due diligence before they purchased the Republican building. They did not contact the state Department of Corrections director to understand what it would take to convert the Bureau County Republican metal building to a hardened facility. These types of facilities have strict requirements that must be pre-approved by the state before they will be approved to meet the numerous strict code requirements.
In addition, when asked if the county plans to house prisoners, the answer is always no. But how do you explain increasing the beds from 36 to 80 without a growing population? What about that significant increase? Will there be people employed twiddling their thumbs until inmates’ numbers increase from 30 to 80?
In March, the 911 Department will be financially insolvent without a tax increase. Why didn’t the Bureau County Board elect to combine Bureau County 911 along with Spring Valley, Peru, LaSalle and Oglesby for an area-wide 911 co-op, at a reduced cost when they knew they would soon be insolvent? Each community would have one vote per community, not based on population?
How many people being arrested on the interstate are for marijuana? Will that be legal in 3-5 years in the state of Illinois? Will there then be a need for the extra 100 percent increase in beds?
I am not saying the sheriff’s facility isn’t in need of major improvements, but the previous one-half percent was supposed to fund those improvements, and a good portion was spent on hiring more people, not fixing the jail and sheriff’s facility, as intended.
I am not opposed to funding a future facility by sales tax at some point. But I say vote “no” now, until more questions are clarified, and the board gives the taxpayers the confidence in the commitments they are proposing!
David M. Rounds