Washington County

Posted: May 03, 2019 3:23 PMUpdated: May 03, 2019 3:28 PM

Sheriff Expresses Need for Quarter-Cent Sales Tax

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Garrett Giles

The Washington County Commissioners approved an election proclamation and resolution this week to continue the County's quarter-cent sales tax.

Sheriff Scott Owen said that no one likes taxes but he thought that the Commissioners were wise in their efforts to extend the tax. He said if the tax pulls through, they will be able to operate at the current level without the Commissioners having to look down other avenues to collect taxes.

Sheriff Owen said that property sales tax collections have slowly diminished over the years. He said that can be a problem for Washington County's facilities. That includes the Detention Center in Bartlesville that is starting to age.

To operate Washington County Emergency Management, the Fairgrounds and the Dentention Center, Sheriff Owen said they need the funds.

For example, the new Washington County Detention Center has to be compliant with all the latest standards. Sheriff Owen said the Maintenance Technician that maintains the Air Handling Systems alone really well.

The technician has reduced expenses so they do not have to outsource a lot of stuff. That has saved the County thousands of dollars in the past. Sheriff Owen said the Washington County Detention Center is 7th largest jail in Oklahoma.

Infrastructure and facility hardware is an area of concern at the Washington County Detention Center as all items are ten years old.  Four 250 gallon Hot Water Heater and pumping units are on the laundry list of items at the jail. Those cost $8,000 each. There are also 26 Air Handlers. That includes 17 HVAC Units and 9 other fresh air and exhaust units.

Estimated replacement cost for a HVAC Unit is $15,000 to $20,000. A compressor replacement part alone cost $8,000. That was the cost for a compressor eight years ago when one failed at the Detention Facility.

A computer change is upcoming over which integraes the jail with the patrol sides of both the Sheriff's Office and the Police Department. The initial portion of the cost will be between $350,000 to $400,000. That may possibly be financed over several years.

There is also a ten-year-old fire suppression system and a fire alarm system that has over 100 sensors throughout the building.

A recently required camera and IT upgrade cost approximately $400,000. Mechanical electronic openers on cell detention center door are servicable, however, in the event that one wears out, they cost approximately $1,000 each to repair. There are about 270 of these mechanisms in the entire facility.

The election to extend the quarter-cent sales tax will take place in June. If it is passed, the quarter-cent sales tax will continue on January 1st, 2020.

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