Supervisors talk tax, jail


The Johnson County Board of Supervisors elected Tuesday to not take an official position on a proposed local-option sales tax.

Johnson County Auditor Tom Slockett asked the supervisors to endorse the proposed tax, which would help pay for repairing infrastructure projects that were damaged as a result of last summer’s flooding.

Voters will decide on May 5 whether to pay an extra 1-cent sales tax — which would take effect June 1 and run through June 30, 2013, if approved.

“I think it’s in people’s best interest to vote for this,” Slockett said.

Supervisor Pat Harney said the supervisors could encourage people to vote for the tax as a group of elected officials.

“But we all have various opinions on the subject,” he said.

Also at the meeting, Johnson County Social Services coordinator Amy Correia, who is also a city councilor, told the supervisors the number of Johnson County juveniles being sent to the Linn County Detention Center is decreasing.

On average, she said, three Johnson County youths were in Linn County’s center daily in January. In December 2008, that number was 5.64, and in July 2008, the average was 8.45.

With the number of inmates shrinking, Harney said, it may be cost-effective to change the contract Johnson County has with Linn County.

The contract requires Johnson County to pay for six beds in Linn County’s detention center at a cost of $500,000 each year. But all six of those beds haven’t been used since December 2008.

“Only three beds were being used in January and February, instead of the six that are available,” Harney said.

If the contract were changed so Johnson County paid Linn County for only the beds being used on a daily basis, it would save Johnson County money. Those funds could be used on programs to help keep juveniles out of trouble, Correia said.

Changing the contract is not yet on any future supervisor agendas, she said, and she needs to do more research to determine if allocating saved money to juvenile programs is feasible.

“We need to see if we would be allowed to use the funds for programs to prevent kids from being more involved with the legal system,” Correia said.

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