Washington County Detention Center Looks to Sales Tax Increase To Expand

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KFTA) — The Washington County Detention Center is looking to expand its facilities with funding from a sales tax increase.

Sheriff Tim Helder says a jail expansion has been discussed for years, but in the past few months overcrowding has become a serious issue and something needs to be done soon.

On Monday night the Jail Law Enforcement Committee discussed how a pod with three levels, adding 600 beds, would be paid for.

The estimated cost is $30 million dollars.

One way to generate the funds, Helder says, is proposing a sales tax increase.

“The initial discussion is that it would probably look like a half cent sales tax for construction. It would sunset once the construction costs are paid for, back to a quarter cent,” Helder said.

Helder says construction for the expansion would likely take no more than two years.

But time is ticking, because the Springdale Police Department will be closing its jail around 2020, and the Washington County Detention center will need to be prepared to house those inmates.

Right now Helder is working to facilitate meetings that will help draft the ballot issue for the Quorum Court to vote on.

He’s hoping that this issue will be on a special election ballot in early spring.

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