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Yakima’s Jail Situation: What’s The Solution?

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Both the City of Yakima and Yakima County are experiencing jail problems. Space, costs, security upgrades. And it’s up to taxpayers to provide solutions.

The Yakima County Commissioners are hoping voters support a proposed tenth of a cent sales tax increase to pay for security needs at the Yakima County jail. Commissioner Mike Leita says if approved the 2.8 million dollars a year would not only pay for security upgrades but would also pay expenses and 515 thousand dollars in annual bond payments over the next 10 years. Today the commissioners are expected to approve the measure for the August ballot.

Leita says the commissioners have pledged a commitment to keeping the community safe so the money will be spent on the jail, regardless of where it comes from.  Leita says after all the needs are met the tax will be retired. The county is proposing a 1 tenth of one percent sales tax increase that will appear on the primary ballot on August 7th.

It could be a hard sell. Taxpayers have long memories and many remember the actions of past county commissions overpaying for a piece of land in Toppenish as a jail site with no water rights, and then building a facility on fairgrounds property that now sits empty and mothballed.

Meanwhile, the City of Yakima is exploring the possibility of build a new city jail. The current facility in the Zais Law and Justice Center has become too small for the city’s needs. The city also says that renting space from the county has become too expensive, and leasing the county fairgrounds jail would not be cost effective.

We had a caller on the KIT Morning News this morning that says that city and county governments are wasting money, and shouldn’t go to the taxpayers without showing where money could be saved before spending money on jail upgrades.

What’s your take on this? Be sure and leave us a comment.

Get more information about the Yakima City Jail here.

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