Douglas County has proposed a half-cent sales tax to finance a jail configuration and expansion and mental illness and substance use disorder crisis center and campus.
The County Commission has adopted ballot language proposing a half-cent sales tax to be decided by county voters by May 15, 2018.
The County has proposed this new half-cent sales tax to finance:
- Construction costs of a jail reconfiguration and expansion;
- Construction of the mental illness and substance use disorder crisis center; and
- Operations of the crisis center and funding for other mental illness and substance use disorder programs; and
- A portion of increased jail operations.
The majority of the revenue from the sales tax would go to fund mental illness and substance use disorder projects and programs. The remainder would be used to pay the debt service on the bonds for construction at the jail as well as a small portion of the increased operation costs at the jail.
for crisis center and mental
for debt service on
the crisis center
for debt service on the jail
for increased jail operations*
*Total Operating costs for the Jail Expansion are estimated to be $6,401,000 (2017 estimates). Remaining costs will be supported by the mill levy.
The two projects are financed from the same revenue source and thus are included in the same ballot question. The County has funded multiple projects with a single tax in the past, including the 1994 sales tax that funded the current jail, the health department building and parks and recreation.
If voters decide they do not want to fund these two projects using a half-cent sales tax, the County will have to find an alternate method to fund the jail expansion and will have to shelve any plans to expand mental illness and substance use disorder services. Alternative financing for the jail could include a different revenue source such as a property tax or cutting other services to pay-as-you-go for construction costs or, most likely, a combination of both.
The ballot language reads:
Shall Douglas County, Kansas (the “County”), be authorized to: (1) impose a one-half percent (1/2 %) countywide retailers' sales tax (the “Sales Tax”) for the purpose of financing the cost to: (a) construct, furnish and equip County mental health and support facilities and pay operating expenses thereof; and (b) construct, furnish and equip additions and improvements to the County’s jail and detention facilities and pay operating expenses thereof (collectively the “Project”), collection of such Sales Tax to commence on October 1, 2018, or as soon thereafter as permitted by law; and (2) issue sales tax/general obligation bonds (the “Bonds”) of the County to pay all or a portion of the capital costs of the Project, related interest costs during construction and issuance costs; provided that the County receive, prior to the issuance of the Bonds, a comprehensive feasibility study that indicates the revenues received from the Sales Tax will be sufficient to retire the Bonds without the necessity of levying any ad valorem taxation; all pursuant to the authority of K.S.A. 12-187 et seq., as amended?
The purpose of this information is to educate the public. We encourage all Douglas County residents to learn more about how their tax dollars are spent by visiting Open Budget Douglas County to make an informed decision.