South Dakota counties could join forces to borrow for new jails, public safety operations
Regional jail authorities would have taxing powers
Cash-strapped South Dakota counties that band together to pay for new jails could get new taxing powers under legislation advancing through the state Legislature this week.
The cost of housing or transporting inmates — sometimes both — has rural counties in crises. Faced with aging jails, no jails at all or exorbitant costs of renting beds in other jurisdictions, counties have for years pled for help from the state. And while additional revenues have been hard to come by, Senate Bill 74 would allow counties to levy a new property tax if they join a regional jail authority.
Right now, counties can form compacts and collaborate on capital projects, including jails. But state law does not allow for counties to bond for projects together, nor can they implement any taxes beyond the existing property tax levies they already collect.
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