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Portage County says it needs a higher sales tax to fight heroin
Commissioners will increase the tax by .25 percent on Oct. 1

Lauren Blue
Chandler says if the county doesn't take action to reduce jail crowding, the federal government could intervene.
Courtesy of Portage County
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Portage County commissioners are raising the county sales tax in part to try to combat the impact of heroin abuse. The quarter-percent increase will go into effect Oct. 1st and is scheduled to last for five years.

Commissioners are hoping the boost will raise $5 million a year to expand the jail and start a drug treatment program.

According to Commissioner Kathleen Chandler, much of the money in the early years would expand the facilities, especially for women; increase staffing and enhance the sheriff’s road patrol.

LISTEN: Commissioner Kathleen Chandler on the tax increase

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“After that is completed, then we can spend a portion of the money to have people who are professionals go in the jail and offer treatment and, I suppose counseling ... so that the hope is that once they leave they won’t come back," says Chandler.    

Chandler says if the county doesn’t take immediate action to reduce overcrowding, the federal government could intervene. Critics of the tax increase say that the county is using the heroin epidemic as a way to increase the county budget long-term.

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Portage County jail deals with overcrowding troubles
Monday, April 13, 2015

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