An unfinished jail in Eastern Kentucky is already causing lots of problems. The new eight million dollar Leslie County Detention Center is just about ready to open, but the new judge executive says not only can the county not afford to pay for it, but the state is already threatening to take over the county and shut down the jail before it even opens if a budget isn't ready by this summer.
No one likes new taxes, but what if not having them meant closing down everything in the county except for the courthouse and the sheriff's department? That's the choice Leslie County Judge Executive Jimmy Sizemore says he has to make.
"The state, if we're bankrupt, they're going to take us over and they'll shut down everything," Sizemore says.
Sizemore says the 150 bed facility will cost two million dollars a year to run. He says the problem is all the tax revenue for the county only adds up to one million dollars a year putting them one million down from the start and that's not counting programs for roads and senior citizens that also need county funding.
"The only thing I could think of is a jail tax that would be added to your insurance bills. I'd say around 4-5% increase," Sizemore said.
For example, a three hundred dollar bill would get a fifteen dollar hike.
In Sizemore's first six weeks in office, the county saved on things like gasoline and phone bills, but he's open to suggestions for what to do with the jail.
"I've tried to sell it, lease it, anything," he said.
A jail tax may not be the only increase coming to Leslie Countians. New Mayor Lonnie Hendrix says the city sewer has been running in the red since the mid 90's. State officials say that's illegal and Hendrix says that means at least a two dollar hike is necessary to operate legally.
"It will go up from seven dollars to between $9.50 and $10," Hendrix said.
Hendrix says if passed, the tax will only be added to people outside of the city limits on city sewer. That's effects about two hundred people.
"They are already paying a tax that people out in the county don't have to pay," Hendrix said.
So far, Judge Executive Jimmy Sizemore says the tax has not been presented to the fiscal court and the city sewer tax is also awaiting a reading. Both will be heard in future meetings and are expected to pass.