Sullivan County Council votes to increase taxes

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SULLIVAN, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – Thursday, Sullivan County Council voted 4-3 to increase local income taxes for jail and other projects.

Sullivan County Sheriff, Clark Cottom, says the current county jail has 54 beds, but as recent as January the jail housed as many as 111 inmates.

According to Cottom, this increase in inmates was partially due to a change that assigned Level 6 felons to county jails, instead of prisons.

“We are currently paying money to other counties to house our inmates,” Cottom said.

To fix the issue with overcrowding and to keep inmates in Sullivan County, a new 180 bed jail was proposed.

Cottom says using figures of $100,000 per bed, a new facility would cost around $18 million dollars, not including soft costs.

“You certainly don’t want to build a jail that you have to add on to in ten years or scrap in 15 years,” Cottom said.

To help fund this project, an increase of 1.1 percent in local income taxes was proposed by county officials.

Sullivan’s current tax rate is .6 percent, the approved increased will raise taxes to 1.7 percent which is around the state average.

According to county council member Logan Pearison, nearly half of this increase will be used for a new jail.

“To pay for the jail, we’re looking at .6 percent,” Pearison said.

The rest of the income tax will be split between the county and Sullivan towns to invest back into the community.

“We need to invest a little bit more into our community so that these 180 kids graduating high school go be productive and bring more income tax into our county, than the one’s sitting in jail,” Pearison said.

According to Cottom, it will could take at least two years for construction to start on a new jail.

The new income tax rate will begin October 1st.

The president of the Sullivan County Council says according to 2019 figures, this is how the money will be dispersed between the county and cities:

Sullivan County – $1,310,457

Sullivan City – $455,844

Carlisle – $74, 240

Dugger – $98,700

Farmersburg – $119,942

Hymera – $85,933

Merom – $24,460

Shelburn – $134,318

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