County Judge Woody Gossom said the extra revenue will all go to the county jail, with about half the increase dedicated to additional jail staffing and the rest toward the expense of housing inmates out of county due to overcrowding.Politicians in Wichita County aren't looking to "reduce the number of people in jail" because they're suddenly soft on crime. They face stark budget choices just like the Legislature does next year, and unlike the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, they recognize it isn't possible to put off forever policy changes that reduce incarceration rates instead of endlessly indulging the system's carceral appetites.
The 2011 budget contains no pay raises for county employees, except for hikes for two district court reporters, which commissioners are required by law to pass.
Gossom said the budget is designed to meet the requirements of the jail and the demands of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.
He said a “great deal” of effort has gone in to dealing with issues that plague both the jail in the courthouse and at the Sprague Annex, including leaking roofs. Gossom also said a committee of county officials and others will be formed to “look into things we can do to reduce the number of people in jail.” (emphasis added)
“We have to look at ways to reduce expenses,” he said.
Gossom said the county is paying nearly $750,000 a year to transfer inmates to jails in nearby counties because of overcrowding here.
The tax rate increase approved Monday is just below the level that could by law allow taxpayers to petition for a rollback..
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Overincarceration at local jail responsible for Wichita County tax hike
Higher county property taxes in Wichita Falls are entirely attributable to rising jail costs, the Times Record News reports today; their county commissioners court this week approved an 8% tax hike: