Tax Hike Approved For $45 Million Madison County Jail

Sep 10, 2019

The Madison County Detention Center in Richmond has been overcrowded for years.
Credit Mary Meehan

The Madison County’s Fiscal Court voted 4-1 Tuesday to raise taxes to build a new $45 million jail. The existing jail was originally built to hold 184 inmates. But according to officials, the jail consistently holds double that number.

Madison Judge Executive Reagan Taylor said he was not eager to raise taxes but the fiscal court had little choice. But Taylor said the overcrowding issue needs to be addressed.

He said voters have been apathetic about the problem resulting in the current difficult situation.

“For them to not be aware that we have an incarceration problem. in our, in our state in our county, I mean for somebody not to know that you're not listening, or you're hiding under a rock or you don't want to hear those things,” he said.

There was an overflow crowd in the courthouse basement, and even some folks watching a monitor on the sweltering courthouse lawn.

Keturah Herron is a field organizer for the Kentucky ACLU. She was one of more than two dozen speakers during the meeting.  She shares broader concerns prison reform and overcrowding. But, Herron said, she is also concerned about the impacts of higher taxes on fixed income residents.

For her that concern is personal.

“I am fearful for my mother. She turned 65 in January, she's worked two and three jobs her whole life. And so she's looking forward to retirement. And if this increase happens, I'm afraid that she's not going to be able to retire and going to have to continue working.”

Taylor said the tax increase will amount to about $228 a year for owners of a $200,000 property and won’t go into effect until December of 2020. Already a citizen’s group is organizing an effort to recall the tax by referendum, he said. 

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Contact: Mary Meehan at mary.meehan@eku.edu

Twitter: @TheMaryMeehan  @889WEKU