New Hancock County jail hits roadblock after failed referendum vote

GREENFIELD, Ind.-  A plan to build a new jail in Hancock County is hitting a roadblock after Tuesday's election, leaving the sheriff and county leaders going back to the drawing board.

A referendum sought to increase the property tax rate up to $0.1436 per $100 of assessed value. It would have helped fund a new jail, a remodel of the current jail and a new room on the courthouse. Voters did not approve it though.

"I saw it was behind the whole time," Sheriff Michael Shepherd said. "I'm disappointed, we definitely need the jail."

Shepherd says the current jail is 30 years old this month and deals with overcrowding, which can cause more problems with inmates and safety issues. On Wednesday, it housed at least 200 inmates, when it is supposed to only have room for 157. That doesn't include inmates who were sent to other counties.

"It may have to be scaled down. It's just how are we going to finance everything, the finances I think are the big key," Hancock County Council President Bill Bolander said.

Bolander said they'll likely have meetings with the council, commissioners, sheriff and other stakeholders to see where to go next.

"Our intention was to put part of this on property tax and part of it on income tax and it's too big a project in my though to put it all on income tax, so we're gonna have to revisit some of the plans and see what we can do now," he said.

Meanwhile, Shepherd said they'll continue to work with county leaders until something is figured out to help alleviate the overcrowding.