Letter to the editor: Keep them separate

To the editor:

I urge all citizens to read or re-read your excellent Dec. 19 editorial titled “Consider issues separately.” It clearly highlights the important reasons why any ballot initiatives to finance the jail expansion and the mental health center should be separated and not put on a single ballot for an “up or down” vote.

It seems obvious that having two separate ballots will unify the community by giving voters a choice to say yes or no on each proposal, or to vote for both. Forcing voters to make an “all or nothing” decision on one ballot covering both projects may well put both in jeopardy.

This may be especially true if the county proposes to fund the bond issues with sales tax receipts. Citizen groups are already at work to prevent any future increases in our already staggering sales tax rate. Sales taxes are regressive and place an undue burden on workers and their families. Other funding mechanisms should be utilized.

Many stakeholders have cooperated in an unprecedented way to develop a campus concept for the mental health center. It will put Douglas County in the front ranks with truly comprehensive services for the mentally ill, those suffering from addiction and intoxication issues. We citizens and our elected officials owe it to those supporting institutions as well as those needing treatment to keep the mental health center a separate ballot issue to assure passage and a prompt start on construction.