XENIA — Greene County officials are lowering their expectations for a new jail in an effort to pass a sales tax to help with construction.
After a tax increase to fund a 500-bed jail was defeated in April 2020, the county is looking at a plan for a new facility to contain just 384 beds.
“The public feels 500-beds means that too many people would be locked up,” County Administrator Brandon Huddleson said. “(And) bail reform and other changes in the law reduce the need for more beds.”
Huddleson added that judges are now practicing “alternative sentencing,” which enables judges to avoid sending more people to jail.
The county began the process of asking for a .25 percent tax increase in November by scheduling public hearings to take place 6:30 p.m. Thursday, July 22 and 1:30 p.m. Thursday, July 29 at 35 Greene Street in Xenia.
If the sales tax levy is placed on the general election Ballot in November and passes, the sales tax increase would go into effect three months later. Greene County residents won’t be the only ones paying the additional tax.
“About 40 percent of sales tax collected is from people outside of Greene County,” Sheriff Gene Fischer said.
Fischer said there is no location picked for the new jail and a timeline for construction is unknown. Greene County currently operates two jails and one administrative facility. However, passage of a levy would combine everything into one facility.
The main jail in downtown Xenia was built in 1969 and a decree was once issued to address the jail’s overcrowding issue.
“In the past, we have had to release people due to overcrowding,” Fischer said. “To be more efficient and house people better, it would be great to have a new facility.”
There are myriad problems with the buildings. The floor is giving away in the carport of the downtown jail and cars are no longer able to be brought there, Fischer said.
The administrative facility has experienced issues with bats, leaking water, and other critters.
“What we have now is not up to 2021 standards,” Fischer said.
Huddleson said that one of the uses for the passage of the levy would be for additional programming space given to the sheriff’s department. That is still a work in progress, Fischer said.
“Until we know exact plans, we do not know what the additional programming would be,” he said.
Reach Darryl McGee at (937) 502-4534