The extra care taken in formulating very specific ballot language for Franklin County’s Proposition P may help agencies avoid the same fate as neighboring St. Louis County.
The intended purpose of the tax expected to generate $46 million each year was to fund law enforcement salaries for officers.
Now, because of the vagueness of St. Louis County’s Prop P ballot language, many employees with ties to law enforcement, like jail staff and other auxiliary and support staff, are asking for their share as well.
Franklin County Sheriff Steve Pelton said the St. Louis County language was carefully reviewed, found vague and steps were taken to avoid the same mistake here.
“Ours covers full-time commissioned officers only,” Pelton said. “That’s the same across the board for all law enforcement agencies in the county.”
Pelton added in the sheriff’s department, commissioned officers are classified as anyone who carries the rank of deputy.
“Right now, I have about 116 commissioned officers,” Pelton said. “That includes jail staff and courthouse guards.”
If approved by voters on April 3, the new half-cent sales tax is expected to generate more than $6 million per year in new funds.
Half will go toward the expansion/renovation of the county jail and the other half will go toward officer salaries.
In addition to law enforcement support personnel in St. Louis County asking for raises, employees in other county departments are questioning why police officers are getting large raises while they have only received small salary increases in recent years.
In Franklin County, Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer said the commission has not been approached by any other county departments concerning Prop P.
Earlier this year, the county commission approved a salary study which included moderate raises for most county departments.
There are already two other law enforcement sales taxes in place in Franklin County. The first was created in 1996 and the most recent was approved by voters in 2007.
Last year, the two quarter-cent taxes combined generated $6,385,152. Over the last 10 years, the two law enforcement taxes have generated more than $58 million.
The first full year of both quarter-cent taxes, $5.3 million was collected. In 2008 and 2010, the taxes generated $4.9 million each year and between 2011 and 2014 the collections averaged $5.3 million each year.
In 2015 the combined amount for the two taxes broke the $6 million mark for the first time and has increased by about $100,000 the past two years.
Thus far in 2018, the two law enforcement sales taxes have generated $944,538.