Spokane Washington Sheriff Supports Sales Tax
- Jun 11, 2012 | Susan McLain
As local municipalities in every state face ever-increasing budget shortfalls to maintain services, sales tax debates rage among city councils and county commissions. Spokane, Washington is no exception.
Recently, Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich promoted the idea that a sales tax increase may be the solution to helping “shore up” its budget. The county is allowed to place a local sales tax up to three-tenths of a cent. The county currently has a one-tenth sales tax that is active. Knezovich “…is asking the county commissioners to place a sales tax increase of two-tenths of a cent on the November ballot and restrict the money raised to law enforcement and criminal justice.”
The Spokane County Sheriff’s department is facing a a$660,000 shortfall as of July 1, according to Knezovich. The department entered the year with roughly $1.4 million less than it needed.
The number of deputies has dropped from the 2008 level of 247 to 213. Six additional deputies will be lost through retirement this year. There are no plans to replace those deputies. With the current budget, six additional deputies may be laid off as early as July but no later than January 2013.
The Sheriff's department reports that "[r]esidential burglaries were up by 52 percent..." and though they have been focused on catching and arresting as many as they can, with 132 arrests the past two months, budget cuts may hamper the efforts to curb the rising property crime.
A two-tenths increase would “…yield an estimated $14 million a year, and could be used to help cities close budget shortfalls. The city of Spokane is projecting a $10 million shortfall for 2013, including funding for police.”
The Commissioners indicated “…they wanted more information to analyze the issue before making a decision on whether to go to voters.” Knezovich indicated that the decision needed to be soon in order to provide the opportunity to educate voters prior to the vote.