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Sunday, September 7, 2008

Judge Decides No New Jail Without Voter Approval

A District Court Judge in Sandpoint says no vote of the people means no new jail!
Everyone's constitutional rights up held with this action.

A district judge in Sandpoint killed plans to build a new Bonner County juvenile detention center and work release facility without tax payer approval.

The plan called for land at the sheriff's office complex in Sandpoint to be leased to Rocky Mountain Corrections, a private for profit business. The private company would then finance construction of a 34-bed juvenile detention facility and a 60-bed work release center.

The county would use taxpayer dollars to pay yearly lease payments of $782,000 and would own the two facilities after 30 years. The Bonner County Commishes worked out a financing scheme around a taxpayer vote by "saying" they would use inmate fees and payments for inmates from other jurisdictions. None the less it created a debt not approved by taxpayers according to the judge in this case

This past Friday, First District Judge Charles W. Hosack ruled the plan violates our Idaho Constitution. Specifically, Article 8 section 3, which requires a public vote and super majority on debts and liabilities that extend beyond one budget year.

The ruling made by Judge Hosack affirms a local citizen lawsuit that was made against the Canyon County Commishes on the Jerome property jail project and the issue of standing decided in that case when it ended up in the Idaho Supreme Court.

Our Commishes have yet another citizen lawsuit on their new jail project. We hope they tune into this case if for no other reason than to save Canyon County taxpayers more wasted money and embarrassment. Stay tuned this will have local implications.

Actions by city and county deciders to circumvent voter approvals of high dollar capital projects will more than likely take an intersting twist this year with the state legislature. They tried to get a sweetheart deal passed last year that would have given them a blank check book but it got defeated in the waning hours of the session.

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