LEBANON, Ind. (WISH) – Boone County Council will hold a public hearing on Monday to hear what residents think of a proposed tax hike that would help pay for a expansion from the county jail.
County commissioners put forward a proposal for the $58 million project — and the prison income tax hike that would come with it — about 18 months ago.
Expansion plans include additional beds, increased mental health and addictions services, more room for a new work release program and a morgue for the county coroner, I-Team 8’s Richard Essex reported in April.
But there is a problem. County commissioners and Boone County Council, which must approve funding for the jail, including tax increases, are at odds over the plan.
In April, council chair Else Nieshalla sent a statement to News 8 discussing her opposition to the proposal.
“I have always shared the commissioners’ desire to make safety in Boone County a priority. Their desire to advance a project with many unanswered questions, however, is a desire I do not share, especially when that project requires increased taxes,” Nieshalla wrote. “If the solution proposed by the commissioners was a slam dunk option or the only option to consider, it would have been easy to go ahead.”
By contrast, Jeff Wolfe, chairman of the Boone County Commissioners’ Board of Directors, said it was “long past” to move forward with the expansion.
“This is one of the most profitable projects we can do, and we need to move forward before interest rates continue to rise,” Wolfe said in a statement Friday. “If we wait any longer, taxpayers will continue to be affected. I hope this project will be expedited to ensure overall public safety in Boone County. »
Wolfe notes that the project has the support of Sheriff Mike Nielsen, who said in a statement, “The commissioners’ proposal is truly for people with mental health and addiction issues in Boone County. We currently do not have the space or facilities to ensure that all of our detainees are taken care of. I hope we can move forward with this expansion in the near future.
Monday’s public hearing will begin at 8:30 a.m. in the Connie Lamar meeting room inside the Boone County office building.