Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes

Cincinnati Enquirer

Last Updated: 9:47 am | Tuesday, October 16, 2007

No 'plan B' if jail sales tax fails


There is no “Plan B” to fix jail overcrowding if voters defeat Issue 27 at the polls Nov. 6.

This is according to a live Web chat hosted by Cincinnati.com today. Commissioners Pat DeWine and David Pepper answered viewer questions – and traded a few barbs – about the proposed sales tax increase to build a new jail, which will appear on ballots as Issue 27.

Questions delved into everything from crime statistics, to the Kahn’s site (the suggested location for the new jail in Camp Washington) to the lawsuit against Sheriff Simon Leis. Leis is being sued for allegedly using county resources to lobby for the sales tax increase.

Among the questions: What if the sales tax is defeated?

“There is no Plan B, unfortunately,” Pepper said, noting that the county – without the tax – will have no place to put overflow inmates and no way to pay for anti-crime programs like the sheriff’s patrols in Over-the-Rhine. He suggested those safety programs have contributed to a lower crime rate in Cincinnati.

“No one has proposed a way even to keep sheriff’s patrols or (a contract to house overflow inmates in) Butler County going, so not only will we not be moving forward, we’ll be going backward.”

DeWine called the statement a “scare tactic.”

“Again the scare tactics. If you don’t pass this jail tax we are going to release prisoners early. Come on. We all know there are many less priority items in the county budget that can be cut.” Pepper said most of DeWine’s cuts wouldn’t be practical or sufficient.

DeWine made much of the fact that there are no set plans for the treatment/rehabilitation dollars that would be generated from the tax.

“David can’t even tell you what programs the tax is going to fund.”

Pepper has previously said there is no set plan for that money by design. The plan creates a Criminal Justice Commission that evaluates treatment programs to decide where the treatment dollars would be best spent.