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Jackson County's sheriff proposes adding a millage to renovate jail

Jackson County Jail on Chanter Road, surrounded a a tall fence topped with barbed wire
Jackson County Sheriff's Office
Jackson County Jail on Chanter Road

Jackson County’s sheriff wants to improve living conditions at his jail facilities through a voter-approved tax millage increase. The proposal comes as the current millage is set to expire at the end of the year.

The Jackson County jail currently has two locations, one on Chanter Road and one on Wesley Street. The facility on Wesley is beyond repair, according to a proposal submitted by Sheriff Gary Schuette’s office to the county commission last month.

Schuette is hoping the commission will approve adding a measure to the November ballot that would ask voters to renew the current millage and double it to pay for new construction at the Chanter location.

Schuette says it would actually cost more to fix the 70-year-old building on Wesley than it would to demolish it and erect a brand new one.

"It's a dangerous environment for the inmates as well with multitude of problems that include heating challenges, cooling challenges," he said. "It also includes sewer leaking in all sorts of different places throughout our facility, and decrepit and old blocks that are breaking."

The current millage is set at half a mill and has been in place for nearly 20 years. It's thanks to this millage that the facility on Chanter Road was renovated, according to Schuette.

"We have all the infrastructure in place out there, meaning we have our laundry facilities out there, our cafeteria services...all the food for both facilities are made out there," he added. "We have adequate medical and mental health services out there."

Schuette says the new building would help cut the county’s recidivism rate and provide better resources to inmates.

"I think even if we were able to conservatively, assist 10% of the population, which I think is absolutely possible, we would save the county, an immeasurable amount of money and time and resources," he said.

The current millage of half a mill means that for every $1,000 of assessed property value owners have to pay $.50 cents. The proposal from Schuette would double that.

"That would be for a $200,000 home with $100,000 of taxable value, that [the new millage] would add $100 to their taxes per year," Schuette explained.

For the proposal to be added to the November ballot, the county commission needs to approve it before the end of the month.

As WKAR's Bilingual Latinx Stories Reporter, Michelle reports in both English and Spanish on stories affecting Michigan's Latinx community.
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