A group of Madison County residents collected nearly 24,000 signatures to get an $18.8 million back-door property tax increase onto the ballot instead. They did it so the people, and not just the politicians, could decide whether the county should borrow money for a jail renovation.
We hope the public will take advantage of this opportunity and go to the polls on Tuesday. We urge a "no" vote on the bond issue.
County leaders have done little to make their case for borrowing money, which would be repaid through higher property taxes rather than spending tax dollars already collected.
Jail improvements are needed, but $18 million worth of work without adding any capacity seems excessive.
The county has millions of dollars in cash reserves -- excess money collected in the past for some future capital project. The county should spend the money already collected before taking more from the taxpayers and adding to their already heavy burden. Even a combination of borrowing and cash would be preferable to borrowing so much.
If voters reject the bond issue, we expect the County Board will come back with a less expensive plan that uses tax dollars already collected to pay for it. That would be a win-win for county taxpayers.