Custer County voters are rejecting raising the sales and use tax by 2 percent to cover the cost of a new justice center.
At some $18 million in estimated construction costs, plus additional money for operations and other expenses it would have been an annual $1.25 million tax increase in effect for 25 years, it was a big ask for a county of only about 4,700 people.
The sheriff and court officials said there are health and safety concerns for both inmates and staff in the current facility. The new building’s design included sheriff’s offices and the county jail with an 18 bed detention center. It also featured a new courthouse with secure spaces for victims and witnesses, a jury deliberation room and staff offices. The jail and courtroom would have been connected so the general public would not be exposed to inmates going to and from trials as they are now.
Proponents of the proposal said that as the county’s population increases the need for a new facility will rise, as will costs.
This measure would have raised the sales taxes in the towns of Westcliffe and Silver Cliff to 9.9 percent, making it among the highest in the state.
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