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Updated Sunday, December 30, 2012 at 11:16 PM

Skagit County considers sale, property taxes for new jail

By Kate Martin
Skagit Valley Herald

MOUNT VERNON — The Skagit County Jail Coordinating Council is considering both a sales and property tax to fund an expansion or replacement of Skagit County's overcrowded jail.

The council met Thursday to talk about jail-financing options. A new or renovated jail could cost taxpayers about $90 million.

Skagit County, which owns the jail on Kincaid Street and charges cities a daily bed rate to house their inmates, cannot afford to build a jail large enough for future needs based on income from future bed rates.

State law requires that the county take on the biggest burden for inmate stays.

In 2011, Skagit County paid more than 82 percent of the jail's budget. That amount represents all people arrested for crimes committed in unincorporated Skagit County and inmates countywide who are charged or sentenced with felonies regardless of where the crime was committed.

Cities must pay for the stays of all inmates who commit misdemeanors in the cities, but if an inmate's charges include a felony, the s cost is then the responsibility of the county.

One way to raise money is a property tax.

Preliminary calculations show property owners could pay an annual cost of $30 per $100,000 in assessed valuation for a new jail, which would raise about $90 million.


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