A discussion about a sales tax increase topped the Prescott Valley Town Council work-study session last week as Yavapai County Administrator Phil Bourdon explained just why such an increase would help build a much needed jail facility.
Bourdon presented the Jail District Sales Tax Plan that would increase the current quarter-cent tax to a half-cent, a move that would bolster construction plans for a $26 million facility that could take up to five years for completion.
Without the increase, there would be general fund cuts, Bourdon said. "Reducing the general funds would greatly reduce law enforcement protection," he said.
Currently, the 600-bed jail in Camp Verde is at full capacity.
Bourdon named some of the ways in which the county has worked to reduce jail district costs by reducing inmate population by way of the Early Disposition Court created to expedite court proceedings. In addition, jail bed rentals are available, for outside agencies such as the U.S. Marshals Service, that bring in revenue to the jail district.
Yavapai County Sheriff Scott Mascher also spoke and explained that in April, during a Board of Supervisors study session, he made it very clear that the current jail system is near capacity and recommended moving forward with a new jail.
He explained that the current jail on Gurley Street would cost more to operate and maintain because of the age of the building and code upgrades. The existing jail is not practical for the use of housing inmates. The county has no plans to sell the aging building, rather it's in full use for the Sheriff's department and Yavapai County Attorney's office, he said.
Town Councilmember Stephen Marshall said that he had been on the fence with regard to this issue, but now agrees the tax increase is better than raising property taxes.
The council also listened to Public Works Director Norm Davis request that a long-standing engineering agreement with Dava and Associates see renewal. Dava and Associates performs services to include system planning engineering, evaluations, studies, and project design work, surveys and construction coordination.
The town has budgeted $55,000 for the contract costs beginning at the new fiscal year 2014/15.
Council also looked at a photo presentation regarding the town's annual Chip Seal Maintenance Program, one the Public Works Department budgets for every year from Highway Users Revenue Funds received from gas tax dollars to maintain the town's streets.
Parks and Recreation Director Brian Witty stood up and congratulated the town as it recently received a 2014 Playful City designation by KaBOOM! a national non-profit dedicated to saving play for America's children, in conjunction with the Humana Foundation.