The millage for a new jail is not a boondoggle

Re David Welton’s recent letter on the proposed cost for the new jail: Setting aside his apparent surprise that an annual assessment of $912,593.00 somehow magically becomes $18.2 million over the course of 20 years (Math can be tricky like that.), one wonders exactly how much Mr. Welton thinks a new jail costs. A Google search for “cost of a new jail” yields figures like $32.5 million (Ingham County, Mich.) and $91 million (Clayton County, Ga.). Comparatively, $18 million for a new jail for Alpena County seems like a bargain.

More troubling is Welton’s real argument, that he shouldn’t have to pay for the new jail, for the county in which he resides, via a tax increase. One wonders how else he expects the funds to be raised. Private donations? Bake sales? Fairies? Taxes are how governments raise revenue. This is known even to schoolchildren. Also, one of the purposes of government is to protect its citizens. This, too, is known to schoolchildren. Part of that protection involves the building of new jails. Even privatized jails (one of the worst ideas in the history of worst ideas) are paid for with taxes.

Welton can complain that his taxes are too high. (They are not, compared to other industrialized countries, but space limitations prohibit getting into that discussion.) But, unless Welton is willing to house inmates on his property, the fact is that Alpena County needs a new jail and a tax increase is the only way to pay for it.

Clyde A Shuman