King County seeks sales tax increase

King County residents will see a drop of nearly 10 percent in criminal defense departments (courts, police, etc.) unless they approve a 0.2 percent sales tax increase this election.

Click here to read the ballot measure for King County's Proposition 1.

The proposal seeks to make up a shortfall of more than $60 million through department efficiency improvements and payroll savings. The tax increase, which equals out to approximately $48 annually per household, would save more than 70 jobs in the King County Sheriff’s Office, 30 positions in Superior Court and another 10 in District Court. Failing the passage of the measure, the county would lose these positions indefinitely. Criminal justice programs represent 77 percent of general fund budgetary expenses. Overall, criminal justice programs face a 9.5 percent cut, while administrative offices may face 12 percent reductions. The budget includes shedding 462 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions, which calls for about 190 layoffs.

Without the revenue from increased sales tax, a number of county organizations in criminal justice would undergo massive layoffs. The King County Sheriff’s Office would cut 71 positions, including 28 deputies. Fifty-one detectives and sergeants would have to go back on the street for patrols, severely limiting the agency’s ability to investigate cases.

Services to help victims are on the chopping block as well. The cuts to public safety remove the final elements of human services in the general fund, which go to help domestic violence and sexual assault victims, among other things.

This year’s budget comes in around $613 million, down from $630 million last year. With $40 million in proposed cuts, the county is still left with a $20 million gap.

— Courtesy of the Bellevue Reporter

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