Goods in Cincinnati’s Hamilton County would cost more under a proposed quarter-cent sales tax increase to pay for a new jail to be announced today, reports the Cincinnati Enquirer. The proposed increase would bring Hamilton County’s sales tax to 6.75 percent from its current 6.5 percent. The money would pay for a new, $225 million jail; it also would pay for a property tax reduction to soften the impact on residents and help sell the proposal. The sales tax increase would go before Hamilton County voters in the fall. If passed, it would raise about $32.5 million a year for 20 years for a new jail.
Sheriff Simon Leis Jr. has pushed for a new jail for more than a decade. “People consider our city not a very safe environment. To stop crime, you have to have a facility to put them in,” he said. Jail overcrowding has become such a problem that more than 9,000 people arrested since 2004 have not been jailed, as they would be if there was space. Instead, they have been fingerprinted, had their mug shot taken, given a court date, and released. In January, a consultant recommended that the county spend $225 million to build a new or expanded 1,800-bed jail, eliminating three older facilities. The plan would increase the current 2,274 beds to more than 3,000.