What all voters in the county should know is that there are TWO aspects to the North County Jail issue: one is the physical structure that is to house 304 inmates, and the other is the staffing of the jail once it’s built. The cost of the jail building is estimated at $86 million. The state passed AB 900 to assist counties in the construction of new facilities and will provide $56 million for the new jail. 

The difference will be made up by the county, which could issue a $30 million Certificate of Participation (COP) for the rest of the bill instead of promoting a new sales tax.  The county presently has COPs to build facilities in North County that could have been used to build this jail.  A new half-percent tax is not necessary.

So just what is Measure S for?  It is for $15 million for the first four years to support the construction of the new jail and to support the reconstruction of the old jail.  Again, this could all be done with COPs, not with a new sales tax.  The funds are also going to be used for the staff at the new facility and for maintenance.  Buried in the proposal are handouts of pork “earmarks” to all the cities, county police and fire and “other programs” to encourage the city councils and supervisors to vote for Measure S.

Measure S has a 14 year limit clause, but in our experience, once any of these taxes get going, they never sunset — the bureaucrats just have got to get their tax “fix.”  Just look at Measure D: when it ended last year, the bureaucrats just had to have Measure A to survive.  Once voted in, Measure S will also need to be renewed or else the sky will fall, so it will go on forever or until rescinded by the voters — fat chance!  The sales tax will be about nine percent unless the state budgeters allow the one percent general state sales tax to expire.  This is a hard fix since the state is in such dire straits, so it may not happen.

Measure S is another huge slush fund which the supervisors can change any Tuesday with three or four votes.  There is no guarantee that it will actually go to the jail construction.  Instead of this tax, the supervisors can issue a COP, which will be designated only for jail construction. One would think that the North County inmates would go to the new jail along with their guards and a portion of the existing jail budget, and there would be no additional support cost. The present budget would be divided according to the number of prisoners in North County so the county would not need to have a sales tax increase.  The buses carrying those prisoners to North County courts every day will not be needed.  The county general fund can cover any added expenses.

The proposed Measure S is supposed to be “protected” by an “Oversight Committee.” However, as with Measure A, the committee is loaded with people selected by the supervisors of like mind, so the members of the committee will just stamp everything as “OK.”  On balance, there is no need for Measure S if our elected officials would get off their hands and make an effort for the taxpayers instead of giving us “the sky is falling” routine.