Ignoring issue won’t make it go away

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 20, 1999

The news that funding operational expenses of the new juvenile justice center will force a tax increase for Adams County residents should come as no surprise.

As long as the supervisors have been debating if, and finally how, to construct the juvenile justice center, critics have been questioning how the county would fund the operations of the center.

With estimates for annual operational costs topping $315,000, funding those costs is a real concern.

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The city has agreed to pay $50,000 annually. Adams County Youth Court Judge John Hudson has steadfastly said that the center can generate additional income through housing juveniles for surrounding counties and that by building the center Adams County can save money by reducing the need to house its juveniles outside the county.

Ultimately, though, the cost of operating the center will fall back on the Adams County budget, and supervisors need to begin talking about those costs and a plan for funding them immediately.

The juvenile justice center is needed and, more important, mandated. And, now that construction is under way, no longer an option for the county.

How the county funds its operations, however, does present options. And with the county already operating on a shoestring budget, there’s little doubt in any of our minds that the reality of the funding will require a tax increase.

Supervisors need to be specific about that tax increase … now. They need to begin explaining to the public and to make a full accounting of how funds generated from the increase will be spent.

Residents and taxpayers are smart enough to understand the need for the juvenile justice center. And we’re savvy enough to understand that we must help fund the cost of operating that center.

All we ask is that the county leadership have a clear and well-thought-out plan for generating and utilizing those funds – and that the county be open in explaining that plan.

It’s not, as county administrator Charlie Brown said, &uot;a pretty picture.&uot;

But it is a necessity.