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Kingman voters again reject sales tax hike to pay for jail

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, April 9, 2014, at 8:31 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, April 9, 2014, at 8:31 p.m.

For the second time in seven months, Kingman County voters have rejected a sales tax increase to pay for a new law enforcement center and jail.

Fewer than 100 ballots separated the yes votes from the no votes in a special election Tuesday asking residents to consider a 20-year, 1-cent sales tax increase to finance capital improvements, including the jail and center, and provide general property tax relief.

Of voters, 772 opposed the tax increase, while 678 supported it, Kingman County officials said in an e-mailed news release. A similar proposal was defeated in October by 49 ballots.

Kingman County commissioners called Tuesday’s outcome “disappointing” in the news release.

Kingman County Sheriff Randy Hill agreed.

“So far, everyone has agreed that we need a new law enforcement center. It’s just how they are going to fund it that appears to be the problem,” he said Wednesday by phone. “I hope the county and voters can come to an agreement.”

The current law enforcement center and 13-bed jail was built in 1959 and remodeled in 1980, Hill said. It sits in a flood plain and does not meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

Overcrowding is also a problem, Hill said.

“The problems with the current law enforcement center are still there and they can only be resolved with a new facility,” commissioners said in the news release.

“We will carefully consider all of our options as we decide how to move forward.”

About 26 percent of the county’s 5,491 registered voters cast ballots Tuesday. Results will be official after canvassing on Monday.

Reach Amy Renee Leiker at 316-268-6644 or aleiker@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @amyreneeleiker.

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