I had the pleasure of attending the Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners meeting when they approved the ballot question to tax residents to fund and expand the Shiawassee County Jail by a four to three voting margin. The question is what can you afford? A roof over your head, meals for your children or assistance programs for seniors who live on a set budget; the list goes on.
Growing up with my father, who worked almost 29 years with the buildings and grounds department for Shiawassee County, I know the truth. The county cut the building and grounds budget and building maintenance program and cut corners to save money at that time. I listened to the proposal from Sheriff BeGole and his financial representative. I noticed a few commissioners with the look of shock and awe when it was stated the total cost is over $70 million for the proposed jail.
For most of them, this was the first time hearing the proposed cost of construction and bonds. While I support a new county jail, I find this proposed millage hard to swallow. I will vote “no” on this ballot question because we need a facility that is for Shiawassee County residents only.
As taxpayers foot the bill, “where is our cut on the income from housing outside inmates?” I would like to be reimbursed for the increased taxes being collected to house these non-county residents. Food for thought: If we as taxpayers approve this proposed tax increase, are the county commissioners and sheriff going to take care of the new jail like they have the current one?
I question the financial stability of the county when Commissioner Gary Holzhausen, of District 3, stated that the county had to dip into the Delinquent Tax Fund to balance the Shiawassee County operating budget. At some point we need to just take care of what we have and start saving for the future. So the question remains: With the cost of living going up and general taxes going up, “How much more can you afford?”
Whether voting “yes” or “no,” you get to decide.
Anthony Karhoff, Shiawassee Township