Millage covers about 40% of jail operations.

August 6, 2018

Dep. Eric Nelson inputs booking information.

Millage covers about 40% of jail operations.

#Election18

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

LUDINGTON — On Tuesday, Mason County voters will be asked to renew a millage that helps fund the Mason County Jail. The 10-year millage rate will be .58, which is a .2 reduction in the current millage that was renewed by voters in 2008. The millage was originally placed on the 1998 millage to fund operations of the jail and also to renovate and expand the jail located at 302 N. Delia St.

The total annual budget of the jail is $2.7 million. The millage is estimated to raise $1,090,676 while the remainder of the funds come from the county’s general fund.

Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole said the millage basically pays for the cost of five corrections deputies and a supervisor. There are a total of 17 full time corrections deputies along with four to six part-time deputies.

“We are very fortunate in Mason County to have the support of our taxpayers to help with these additional funds,” Sheriff Cole said. “Many of our neighboring counties do not have millages to support their jails, and they are understaffed, which is a dangerous position to be in. Our jail staffing is not overloaded. The staff we have on hand consists of hard workers who take their jobs seriously and protect the inmates and the staff who works at the Mason County Sheriff’s Office.”

Cole said the jail sees a variety of criminals.

“At any given time, the jail could include people arrested for drunk driving to people accused or convicted of murder. It is essential that we maintain the level of staffing we currently have.”

The current jail underwent renovations and expansion in the late 1990s. The previous jail, built in 1959, consisted of 32 beds. The expansion increased that to 110 beds. “The original proposal was for 80 beds,” Cole said. “But, the county commission at the time was able to secure a grant which allowed for the additional beds. The grant funds also reduced the original millage request, which was for .82 of a mill, dropping it to .78. Ten years later, the voters in Mason County graciously renewed that millage. Since that time, the building has been paid off, which is why the millage is now .58.”

Cole said the jail typically has 60 to 75 inmates on the average.

“The Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution calls for the safe and humane treatment of inmates, this is also part of our mission statement at the sheriff’s office,” Cole said. “I believe, through the support of our taxpayers, we are able to comply with the Constitution and our mission statement.”

The following is the language that will appear on the ballot:

This proposal will allow the county to levy millage to pay for operating expenses related to the 1997 Jail Expansion. Shall the limitation upon the total amount of general ad valorem taxes which may be assessed against real and tangible personal property in the County of Mason, Michigan be increased by up to 0.58 mills ($0.58 per  $1,000) on the taxable valuation of such property, as finally equalized, for a period of ten (10) years 2018  through 2027, inclusive, for the purpose of paying the additional operating expenses related to the 1997 Jail Expansion, which increase will raise an estimated $1,090,676 in 2018?

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