Battle Lines Drawn Over Jail Proposal in Big Spring

By Michael Stafford
Newswest 9

Howard County taxpayers can expect a call soon asking them to support that eleven million dollar jail bond issue.
At the same time, a taxpayer committee has been busy doing some anti-jail campaigning of its own.  Now voters have a few more weeks to wade through all the statistics and make some educated decisions.

County Judge Mark Barr knows his time is running short to convince voters they need a new jail.

"Television interviews hopefully with the news media.  I have a radio spot tomorrow morning," says Barr.  And Barr is using private funds for a pro jail phone campaign.  He's trying to counter a local tax committe putting on fliers like this showing taxes going way up if a jail is built.

"I feel uncomfortable about it  because it is misleading.  It states our taxes are going up 50 percent in the next two years and that's not the case.  They're basing this on the old jail bond issue that was last year and this is a totally different jail," Barr adds.  

On Wednesday, we caught up with the treasurer of that citizens tax committee, Ervin Fisher, a resident for 39 years.  He claims his figures comes from the Auditor's office and are right on target.

"They say the 50 percent isn't right.  Well we're not talking just the jail issue, we're talking about 23 percent already put on, and then after it passes, then they'll put another increase to pay for it," contends Fisher.
Fisher can't understand how the state can send a certificate of compliance for the old jail back in August, and now say they'll shut it down if voter's reject the issue.  Barr says the state has allowed variances for safety over the years, but now they're worried about inmate safety and lawsuits, and says the jail commission's patience is running out.

Whatever the case, Barr says residents can expect a nickel increase in taxes so he says why not have something that's our own instead of paying even more to ship inmates to other counties with nothing to show for it.