Voters in Garland County will go to the polls Tuesday to decide on increasing the sales tax by 1% to build and operate a new $40 million county jail in Hot Springs.
The proposals include a 0.625% increase to support $42 million of sales tax revenue bonds to buy land and build the jail. The tax would begin April 1, 2012, and expire after five years or whenever the bonds are paid off.
A separate 0.375% sales tax would pay for operations and maintenance at the new jail. The tax would go into effect April 1, 2013.
Garland County currently levies a 0.5% sales tax. The state sales tax rate is 6%. The current county jail was built in 1983 to hold a maximum of 88 inmates. At times, the jail holds up to 200.
The new facility would be built on a 54-acre site the county would buy with the bond proceeds. It would have a capacity of 476 inmates when it opens in 2015.
Proponents said the new jail would cost about $5.6 million a year to operate. The dedicated tax is expected to generate $5.7 million a year.
The current 0.5% sales tax approved in 2008 for county operations, including the jail, generated $7.8 million in 2010.