During the week of April 16th the Publicity Pamphlet and Text of the Ballot for the proposal to extend the ¼ cent sales tax will be mailed out to every registered voter in Yavapai County. If you do not receive your copy in the mail, please be sure to contact the Voter Registration Department at 928-771-3248.
Yavapai County Board of Supervisors Chairman, Rowle Simmons said, “It is important to remember that this is not a new tax and is not to build a new jail.” Yavapai County Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman, Randy Garrison said, “Operating our existing jail must be paid for. I would rather have those visiting the area share in that burden than to have the residents of Yavapai County pay for 100% of it. This sales tax does just that.”
The text of the ballot question reads (in part):
The Board of Directors of the Yavapai County Jail District asks the voters of Yavapai County for approval to extend the existing Jail District excise (sales) tax of up to ¼ of a cent per dollar ($0.0025) for an additional twenty years to continue revenues necessary to support the county jail system.
In 1999, the citizens of Yavapai County approved the Jail District Board of Directors to levy a jail district sales tax of up to ¼ of one cent ($0.0025) for a period of twenty (20) years. The jail district sales tax authorization was approved by 70% of those voting. Since approval all funds collected from the tax have been used to fund the operations of the county-wide jail system.
The jail district sales tax is used for operation and maintenance of the county-wide jail system. The jail district sales tax revenues are restricted by state law and may only be used for purposes related to the county jail system.
Jail District sales taxes pay half of the jail system’s costs. Currently, the annual cost for operation and maintenance of the Yavapai County jail system is $18.1 million. Approximately half of that cost ($8.8 million) is funded by the current ¼ cent jail district excise (sales) tax.
The Board of Supervisors, Sheriff and other county criminal justice officials have worked together to reduce the jail population, cut jail operating costs, and increase efficiency in jail operations. These include the following:
• Pre-arrest mental health diversion strategies for all Yavapai County law enforcement such as Mobile Crisis Response Teams and the formation of a Crisis Stabilization Unit developed in partnerships with mental health providers
• Early Disposition Court (EDC) to promptly resolve criminal cases and reduce the number of inmates awaiting trial
• Pre-trial release and diversion programs to expedite the release of inmates where release would not threaten the community
• Innovative prosecution and sentencing programs to reduce recidivism
• 287g programs to promptly identify and transfer illegal immigrants to Federal custody
• Privatization of jail medical services to reduce costs
• Use of less costly civilian staff and volunteers to perform routine tasks previously assigned to certified detention officers
• Inmate “co-pay” programs to partially offset costs for food and medical services provided to inmates
• A dedicated Behavioral Health Unit to facilitate the release of arrestees with mental health issues to treatment facilities and reduce recidivism
• Implementation of Veteran’s Courts to facilitate the release of veteran arrestees and reduce recidivism
• Coordinated release program linking offenders with mental health treatment providers upon release
There were over 40 letters received in support of the measure and none in opposition. Letters came from Sheriff Scott Mascher, County Attorney Sheila Polk, all five of the Board of Supervisors, Senator Karen Fann, Steve Pierce, Prescott Mayor Greg Mengarelli, and many others.