Sandoval County considers tax for jail improvements | KOB 4
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Sandoval County considers tax for jail improvements

Kai Porter
February 22, 2018 12:31 AM

BERNALILLO, N.M. -- Sandoval County could see their go up soon. County commissioners are proposing a sales tax increase to pay for jail repairs.

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The conditions at the Sandoval County Detention Center are concerning. The issues include cell doors that don't shut properly, rusty pipes, and holes in the walls. Jail officials say it's only a matter of time before someone gets hurt if repairs aren't made soon.

"Just on the side of the toilet here, you can take a look and you can actually see that the wall's been kicked in because of the rust and the corrosion from the backside," said Chris Urbanic, the jail's interim director.

On Wednesday, Urbanic also showed a KOB news crew rusting pipes in the walls that leak into the cells and the rust-stained shower room.

Then there's the cell door issue. There are 115 cell doors in the facility that don't even close. One cell doesn't even have a door. Assaults on staff and other inmates are the chief concern, Urbanic said.

"There's a lot of things that can happen," he said. "It's hard to say what could happen, but it's definitely preventable if we can get these things working in a proper manner."

"I think we have a situation here of what might be called benign neglect over the past recent years," added County Commissioner Dave Heil.

Heil said the commission is proposing a gross receipts tax increase to pay for the $5.1 million in much-needed repairs. It would cost the average family in Sandoval County about $12 more a year.

"This is a gut-wrenching process because I don't like to raise taxes at all," he said. "But you've looked at all the alternatives and you've looked at the importance of the public safety and the safety of our staff and even the safety of the inmates, we run out of choices here."

County commissioners will vote on the proposed tax increase on March 15. If it's approved, the tax hike will take effect in July.

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Kai Porter

Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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