By FRANK PHILLIPS
While the state looks at an $850 million deficit over the next two years, Clay County may be able to raise money to build a new jail, thanks to a bill under consideration this session.
"We don't have the space to put criminals, so a new jail will be very helpful," Rep. Andy Thomas, R-Brazil, said.
The budget deficit projection came from Rep. Clyde Kersey, D-Terre Haute, at Saturday's Crackerbarrel at the YMCA. About 30 people attended the session to meet face to face with state lawmakers including representatives Thomas, Clyde Kersey, R. Brooks LaPlante , R-Terre Haute, and Sen. John Waterman, R-Shelburn.
If passed into law, HB 1155 would allow Clay County to increase its CAGIT rate by point-25 percent. The money can only be used for a new jail and the additional tax must expire when jail bonds are paid off. CAGIT stands for the county's adjusted gross income tax. The measure has won the favor of the Clay County Council, Thomas said after the meeting.
Thomas said the current county jail is the second oldest in the state. It was built to house 45 inmates. When the new jail, mandated by the federal government, is built, greater capacity may mean additional income from the State Department of Corrections. The D.O.C. would pay Clay County to house inmates here.