Juvenile Hall on Nov. ballot | SierraSun.com

Juvenile Hall on Nov. ballot

Nevada County voters, who last month agreed to a sales tax hike for libraries, will face another sales tax measure in November, this time for a new juvenile hall.

Despite some reservations, the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously agreed to place a quarter-cent sales tax measure on the fall ballot. It must pass by a two-thirds margin

County Administrator David Brennan recommended voting against the tax measure, warning that it may not have a chance. There is no organized election committee yet, Brennan noted, and a failed measure could stigmatize the county’s plans to develop a new juvenile hall. Supervisor Peter Van Zant echoed some of those same sentiments.

“This is raw politics,” Van Zant said. “There are three months to go (before the election). In war and politics, you don’t go in to lose, and you don’t go in without enough resources to win.”

County officials promise to pursue outside funding, such as state money, in addition to the sales tax revenue. In agreeing to put the measure on the ballot, the supervisors on Tuesday promised to halt the tax in four years – or sooner if other funding becomes available.

Van Zant warned that voters will want the county to spend more time seeking other funding before asking them for a tax hike.

Board Chairman Sam Dardick conceded it is late to start a campaign, particularly in the eastern part of his district. Truckee is largely unaware of the need for a new juvenile hall, yet accounts for 12 percent of the county vote, said Dardick.

Still, the supervisors unanimously approved the sales tax measure.

“I will support putting this on the ballot, but I realize this is a tough one to win,” Dardick said.

The county wants to replace the current 19-bed juvenile hall in Nevada City, which is considered too old and too small, with a $6 million, 35-bed facility.

Judge Carl Bryan, who oversees the juvenile and family court in western Nevada County, warned that if county officials didn’t replace the facility on their own, a federal judge could force them to.

“We need to do something now,” Bryan said.

If the county needs to, it can place the measure on the ballot more than once, said Supervisor Karen Knecht.

“There is no sense continuing to put off what we know we have to do,” Knecht said.

Sierra Sun E-mail: sun@tahoe.com

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