County putting Criminal Justice levy on fall ballot
July 28, 2016
Wahkiakum County commissioners on Tuesday signed a resolution to ask voters to approve a property tax levy to supplement criminal justice spending.
The levy would be a maximum of 39 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value; it would be a six-year levy starting in 2017.
The resolution would also authorize a 1 percent increase--the statutory limit--for the five years following the first year.
In justifying the request for the levy, the resolution cites the growing gap between rising expenses and the slower increase in property taxes which have the statutory limit as one reason. The resolution also states that the county sheriff's office, the only law enforcement agency responsible for upholding criminal justice in the county, has lost some state revenue.
Finally, the resolution states, "WHEREAS, as a result, salaries throughout the Wahkiakum County criminal justice system have not kept pace with those driven by city criminal justice agencies not limited by the property tax cap, and the Wahkiakum County Sheriff's Office has been forced to cut back necessary services, such as the provision of a school resource officer at the Wahkiakum School District and the ability to staff the sheriff's office with a sworn deputy at any time of the day or night . . . "
"Criminal justice" is a broad term ranging from jail operations to law enforcement to district and superior court functions. Commission Chair Blair Brady said it would be up to the county sheriff to suggest how the funds should be distributed.