ST. CLOUD (WJON News) -- Stearns County continues to move forward in the process of creating a new jail and justice center.

The county board of commissioners has hired an architect and a construction manager while also approving a plan to ask voters for a 3/8 cent sales tax to help pay for the project.

Stearns County Administrator Mike Williams says it is a very expensive project with estimates in the $300-million range. And, Williams says about half of the people who go through the Stearns County justice system aren't from Stearns County. So, he says the county felt the best way to keep the burden off of property taxes was to have others help pay for it through a sales tax...

We had the University of Minnesota do a study about who would pay that tax. (The study showed) more than 50% would come from people that do not have a Stearns County address.

Williams says more and more of the county's needs have had to come from property taxes over the years as state and federal aid has gone down...

If you look at how cities and counties have been funded 30 years ago, our revenues were probably 45% state and federal dollars and 45% property tax. If you look at that today, it's more like 60% property tax so state and federal revenues have been going down which is why we're seeing in the last 30 years, local governments looking for other ways to fund projects.

Williams says there are some important milestones ahead, including where the justice center will be located, what offices will be included in the jail complex, and what the sales tax question will look like on the ballot.





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