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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Jail Bond Redux Or Third Time In Four Years

The good people of Canyon County are going to get yet another chance to vote on a new jail bond.  This will be the third time in four years for voters to address this plea for new jail cash. 

We could not help but notice the cover of this weeks TIME MAGAZINE and how elected officials still do not get it.  Taxpayers are already giving all they have to give and they still want more money.  The lure is Build America Bonds with a subsidized interest rate on the repayment.  The costs of repayment are still at or near market rates for tax free municipal bonds.  It is just another debt instrument where bankers get more money for underwriting BAB's and taxpayers have to pay a high interest rate.  It is a shell game where the payback is hidden from the locals and comes back to the banks with more interest paid to them and more taxes paid by federal taxpayers.  BAB's are not a good deal for taxpayers. Even the IRS is questioning the slight of hand going on with these bonds. The Wall Street Journal is saying they are a bad deal.

If our Commsihes decide to hold a special election in August for a jail bond it will cost county taxpayers between $36,000 and $60,000 depending on how many voting places are open for people to cast their votes.  Add to this, it  costs $84/day to keep someone in the Canyon County jail.  Operational costs of a new jail will fall to property owners of the county along with the amortization costs of the bond.  Last time around the costs of amortization of the bonds would be about $10,000/day or $3.6 million a year for 20 years plus the operational costs of around $20 million a year for the new jail project voters shot down.

We applaud the Commishes for allowing us to vote and not going behind our backs with the piecemeal approach they were previously using to fund a jail project out of current cash flow.  Their seemingly endless flood of money ceased with the implosion of the housing and commercial real estate markets.  They don't want to pull in their horns on a jail project they just want more property tax money to fund the project.

Alternative sentencing saves money on the expense side of the ledger as well as the revenue side.  Pick and choose who really belongs in jail. It takes some effort to do this but it is far less expensive than locking everyone up at huge taxpayer expense. Most non-violent offenders belong in alternative sentencing options to pay their debt to the courts and society.

The Commishes have another problem besides the jail on their hands.  We learned tax collections are behind by 3.5 million or 86% of what they should have by now.  People can't pay their taxes and it isn't getting any better.  More taxes will push more people over the edge.


  1. I'll try to be brief....

    1) A independent civilian committee of volunteers was formed to research among other
    things whether or not a bigger jail was needed. They seem to think it's needed
    judging by their announcement in the IPT article I saw yesterday.

    2) The committee would also make recommendations to the commissioners
    as to whether or not a bond issue should be put before the public for a vote.

    3) They announced they would be submitting their findings to the commissioners.

    This does not necessarily mean the commissioners will follow those recommendations at this time.
    Who knows, they might shelve these findings for use at a later date when things improve
    but in either event they haven't made a decision yet.

    I think your judgment that the commissioners or any other elected official doesn't
    "get it" is still premature Paul. I think you should wait and see what they actually do
    if you really want to give them a fair shake.

  2. NO, NO, and again NO!!!

  3. Here's the deal. The jail may be nice to have but is does not rise to the level of life and death for taxpayers. We are maxed out. Our taxes are high, our retirements gone with the wind called banks and Wall Street.

    If the conditions in the jail are bad then fix what you have and take good care of it. The ACLU lawsuit was all about maintenance and housekeeping along with blatant overcrowding.

    Most cities and counties don't have the jail space they would like to have because they are big, ugly, expensive places to maintain and operate. Put the right people in jail and utilize alternative sentencing for the rest.

    If an August date is selected for a special election at additional costs over waiting until November it may irritate a lot of taxpayers.

  4. Haven't the problems in the jail been fixed?
    How come we got all those illegals running the streets? There's a good reason to build there.
    If they don't have the right people in jail then who are the right people to put in jail? All these illegals thats who.I just wanna know when someone is going to do something about it instead of talking about it. Get them illegals outta here!

  5. If things are going according to what Sheriff Smith Campaigned on this last time he ran for office there is supposed to be a program in place to expedite illegals to ICE in short order.

    The jail is not a one time fix it deal. It requires daily cleaning and housekeeping, painting, repair and other things you do to your own home while living there. Years ago they had an excellent jail maintenance program but what happened to that effort and funding is unclear. It never failed a jail standards inspection until the current Sheriff took office

  6. This coming from the guy who got let go by the current sheriff. Sure you aint holding a grudge.

  7. Looks like Clerk elect Chris Yamamoto has come out swinging aginst the jail project. Just because something is on sale, you don't need to buy it. Especially if you are already broke.

    Good on Yamamoto for taking a stance on this matter

  8. I see that the county commisioners want to reduce the number of voting places for the jail bond from 52 to 10 . You don't suppose those 10 polling places were the ones wher they got the most votes during the last vote.


  9. Why do they insist on the jail being way out there on hwy 26? is it because they bought the property using the good buddy principal. (remember the corner of homedale and the blvd).
    downtown would be cheaper, close to bus service, and help the downtown area.


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