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Jail Measure’s Fate Rests With Absentees

Thu., Nov. 9, 1995

It’s nail-biting time for supporters of a sales tax increase for bigger Spokane County jails.

Unofficial election night totals have Proposition 2 behind by 31 votes. The tally: 44,055 in favor; 44,086 opposed.

But law enforcement officials have reason for optimism, with thousands of absentee ballots still to count.

That’s because the tax measure was favored by 55 percent of 5,508 absentee voters who filed early. If that percentage holds true for mailed-in ballots, passage is assured.

“It’s just crucial,” said Rand Young, who manages the county’s juvenile detention center.

“You look at violent juvenile crime - it’s almost daily now. And the adult jail is bulging at the seams with really serious offenders.”

A final tally isn’t expected for at least a week, election officials said. A simple majority vote is needed for passage.

Reflecting concerns about rising violent crime, city voters supported Proposition 2, especially on the northwest side and South Hill. It failed in unincorporated areas and the Valley.

The measure proposes a threeyear 10th-of-a-penny sales tax increase. It would raise an estimated $12 million to add more bunks to Spokane County Jail cells, enlarge the juvenile lockup, hire more correctional officers and launch related programs.

, DataTimes

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