What does a 1/4 cent sales tax mean to you?
When you purchase a $4.00 drink from your local coffee shop, this sales tax adds just one cent ($0.01) to the total.
|$4.00 sale = 1 penny
Jail districts may raise funds through property taxes or sales taxes, which must be authorized by the voters. Funds raised by a Jail District must be used for jail purposes. In 1999, Yavapai County voters elected to fund jail system costs through a sales tax of no more than ¼ cent per dollar ($0.0025) of eligible sales, and this tax has been in existence since 2003. The jail system currently costs approximately $18.1 million per year to operate, and will likely increase over time due to inflation. The County currently contributes $7 million per year to the Jail District from the County General Fund as legally required “maintenance of effort,” with most of the remaining funds ($11.1 million) raised through the existing jail district excise (sales) tax.
Is this a new or additional tax?
No. The current proposal would extend the existing jail district sales tax, authorized in 1999, until June 30, 2040. Voting yes would not raise an existing tax or create a new tax.
Who pays the jail district sales tax and on what purchases?
The jail district sales tax applies to all non-grocery purchases of goods in Yavapai County. "Grocery" purchases are exempt from the tax, and are generally defined as all food purchases except ready-to-eat foods. Approximately 17% of sales taxes in Yavapai County are paid by visitors to the county. This means that non-residents pay a significant portion of the sales taxes within the county.
I live within a city or a town. Why do I have to pay for county jails?
Under Arizona law counties provide many services to all citizens of the county, including those that live within cities and towns. These services include criminal justice services such as prosecution of felonies (by the County Attorney), criminal felony trials (by the Superior Court), and the housing of inmates accused of crimes anywhere within the county (by the Sheriff). Before the Jail District was established, cities and towns were required to pay Yavapai County for housing prisoners charged in municipal courts. With a Jail District established, cities and towns no longer have to pay to house these prisoners. Since the Yavapai County Jail District was established in 1999 the cities and towns of Yavapai County have saved an estimated 20 million dollars in prisoner housing costs. These savings are available for cities and towns to enhance services and/or reduce local taxes.
What will happen if the proposed authorization is not approved?
Operation of a safe and secure jail is a principal obligation of county government - very few obligations are of equal priority, and none are of higher priority. If the proposed authorization is not passed, the existing sales tax will end in June of 2020. Over half the funds currently used to operate the jails will be lost, and all of that money will need to be replaced with money from the county general fund. This county will be forced cut funds to other county services (law enforcement, courts, public health) and increase property taxes in order to operate a safe and secure jail.