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It was a Monday night (5-6-19) at the Patriots meeting, 6 p.m. at 2570 South Bonnyview Road in Redding. I did a survey consisting of three questions:
1. Would you support a county 1-cent sales tax, estimated to raise $30 million or more per year, that was earmarked solely for building a jail, its staffing and maintenance?
2. Would you support a 1-cent sales tax earmarked for public safety?
3. Would you support a sales tax for the general fund?
A 1-cent sales tax earmarked for a jail would need a 2/3 majority to pass, but the funds could only be used for what is specified in the tax on the ballot, in this case a jail. A new 500 inmate jail would allow us to lock up offenders upon arrest and for the duration of their sentence. A misdemeanor in California is punishable by up to 364 days in the county jail. This way we could hold offenders accountable for every offense at the time of their arrest, instead of the current revolving door. Presently when a person is arrested and booked, another inmate has to be released because of overcrowding.
Criminals are not concerned about spending too much time in the slammer, but if we could lock them up for six months or a year it might make them think a little harder about their lifestyle and it would probably convince our out-of-the area criminals to return home. If we limited the new 500-bed jail to misdemeanor offenders and use the old jail for felons we could arraign them on site as Chief Mike Johnson has suggested for “The Life Center” and save court space.
Maybe after being locked up for six months they might want to have a conversation about their lifestyle and how to change it to fit in with society a little better. Perhaps some programs from the proposed “Life Center” could be incorporated in the new jail to help the inmates rejoin society, but if not, that’s their choice; we have room to keep locking them up and not being a threat to our safety.
A 1-cent-sales tax for safety, again, would need a 2/3 majority to pass and could be used for anything safety-related; sheriff, fire or anything else our county supervisors decided was safety- related. And there’s the rub; how our supervisors interpret safety-related. Certainly the sheriff’s department and fire is safety-related, but is a Navigation Center, The Place, safety-related? How about five new sheriff’s jet boats for Shasta Lake? How about some new snowmobiles for search and rescue? Is rehab or educational trade schools or educational programs that teach inmates to read and write safety-related? Maybe if we sent our offenders on a vacation to Hawaii or Las Vegas every six months they would feel better about themselves and not commit as many crimes. That could be safety-related, maybe, in our some people’s opinion. Do you trust our local elected leaders to make wise decisions for us? Does recent history tell us they will?
A sales tax for the general fund would only need a majority to pass, 50% plus one vote, and could be used for anything our supervisors or city council — if it was a city tax — deemed fit. By the way, a city tax will not pay for jail funding, a navigation center or help support the district attorney’s office as Julie Winters claimed, those are county responsibilities. The county will pay $465 million over the next 25 years (2017 figures, Ca. Actuary Report-CALPERS) and the City of Redding $597 million (2017) over the next 30 years to clear their unfunded pension liabilities. This gets paid before anything else, so if there’s a downturn in the market these payments can only go up, and there goes our money from the sales tax increase. You’ve only got to think back to decisions made over past years to decide if that’s the avenue we want to take.
Back to that informal survey: ¾ of the room — 125 people or so — raised their hand in support of a 1-cent sales tax earmarked for a jail only. One hand was raised in support of a safety tax, and NO hands were raised in support of a 1-cent tax for the general fund.
Please note, This survey is geared toward controlling lawbreakers, not the homeless nor the mentally ill, although for the criminally mentally ill lawbreakers, maybe they should have their own floor at the new jail that will be tailored to put them in the safest environment possible. Possessing a shopping cart from a store is against the law, as is using our greenbelts as a latrine or leaving an environmental wasteland at one’s campsite. These crimes need to be enforced along with property and physical assault crimes. I would be happy to address any “Rotaries, soccer moms or business leaders” to explain my/our position. Call 221-2433
Contact our County Supervisors at “firstname.lastname@example.org” to let them know you support a 1-cent “jail only” tax or call them at 225-5550.
Sometimes I get the feeling that the people in power don’t want to solve the homeless/vagrant/criminal problems that infest our neighborhoods, that must be so frustrating to our law enforcement professionals.
Nick Gardner of Redding