Jail tax to go before Oklahoma County voters in March

Committee tasked with developing new adult, juvenile detention center complex plans to reveal final recommendations in December, with a ballot measure put before county commissioners by Jan. 3.
BY ZEKE CAMPFIELD zcampfield@opubco.com Published: November 29, 2012

The chairman of an Oklahoma County committee tasked with planning a new detention center said a sales tax election will be scheduled as early as March.

Stacey Trumbo, the county engineer, said planning for the new adult-juvenile complex is nearing completion and that the county's legal team is now preparing a ballot.

County voters will be asked to support a 10-year, half-cent sales tax to support the estimated $350 million project, Trumbo said.

“I'm really of the opinion that maybe the committee's work is over and we need to just get on with ballot titles and go to a vote of the people, see what they have to say about it,” he said on Tuesday.

The county contracted with a Georgia consulting company in March to design the jail, identify a location and to develop a financing package to be presented to voters.

Talk of replacing the current downtown jail — opened in 1991 and the largest of its kind in the state — picked up steam in 2007, when the Justice Department outlined a series of management and operational deficiencies there.

Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel said the four remaining deficiencies at the jail cannot be resolved without a major remodel or new facility. Whetsel has not said whether he will endorse the construction of a new jail.

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