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"Exhausting" public hearing on Vigo County Jail wraps up, concerns with public safety portion of tax increase

After nearly three and a half hours, county leaders have a lot to think about when it comes to the future of the Vigo County Jail.

Posted: Aug. 1, 2018 11:28 PM
Updated: Aug. 2, 2018 11:53 AM

VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) - After nearly three and a half hours, county leaders have a lot to think about when it comes to the future of the Vigo County Jail.

It's up to the county council to decide what to do with taxpayer dollars. That's as a .75 percent increase total is on the line.

A portion of that tax would benefit public safety.

That was a hot topic at Wednesday's public hearing on the jail project. 

According to previous reports, if the tax is approved, .20 percent would go toward public safety entities in the county.

Some believed it's unfair that public safety is lumped into the jail's future. That's because if the tax doesn't pass, those entities would not receive money.

"It really breaks my heart, I really would like for them to get their money," said Taxpayer Donna Williams, "I think the last gentleman who spoke was absolutely correct, take it out of this jail ordinance."

For local fire departments, especially volunteer which is already strapped for cash, there's a lot at stake than just the jail project. 

"To be honest if you take public safety out of that, that would be up to the council, that's their right, I'd be banging at the door," said Fire Chief Darrick Scott, Sugar Creek Fire Dept., "and as far as the citizens and some of the council members that think it needs to be, I hope I see them at 8 o'clock in the morning with their application ready and they're ready to make runs with me."

"It's frustrating because the times have changed," said Chief Scott, "When I first joined we made 300 runs, now we make around 1200. Laws have changed, requirements have changed. So I understand the volunteer levels are going down because a lot of people have families to raise, they don't have the time to give to their community, especially being a volunteer fireman, but things have to change. I still have to get equipment out the door and I still have to provide protection to my citizens."

No decisions were made at Wednesday's public hearing.

August 14th will be the date to remember. That's when the second reading of the proposed ordinance will be held and a vote could take place. That's also the next scheduled county council meeting.

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