Washington voters have an obligation to Franklin County. As responsible citizens of both entities, we have always met our obligations by supporting them even if it’s a pocketbook issue.
We’ve got two tax issues on the ballot Tuesday, April 3 — one for the county and one for Washington. Both are sales tax proposals. One, the county issue, is a tax increase. The other is a renewal of a sales tax for the city of Washington. Both are important.
The county issue, Prop P, is a new half-cent sales tax. Half of the revenue will go for the county jail and communications department. The jail is over-crowded with inmates. It either will be expanded or a new jail built. The other half of the revenue will go for pay increases for law enforcement officers in the county. The county will distribute the funds countywide.
The ballot wording is clear as to who qualifies for a raise and to the extent it will be given since there are agencies that are involved in law enforcement along with police officers and sheriff’s deputies. Law enforcement is a wide field.
The renewal of the Washington capital improvement sales tax has been providing revenue for important projects in the city since 1989. It has always had a sunset provision. From the beginning of the tax, the sunset provision was looked upon as an accountable mechanism for voters to see how the money has been used. The fact that the tax always has been renewed is an indication that voters have been pleased with how the city has spent the money.
The Washington vote is very important in the election. If city voters should only elect to support the Washington sales tax, it would be harmful to the county’s Prop P. We don’t think that will happen because Prop P will help the city pay its officers more, and voters realize that. Prop P is very important in retention of officers.
Employment of police officers is very competitive today. With higher pay for officers in nearby counties and their municipalities, it is more difficult for many communities to retain their officers.
A healthy turnout of voters is predicted for the April 3 election. There are many candidates for board positions. With the tax propositions on ballots, plus the other candidate races, interest is expect to be higher than usual.
The county and city will inform voters of all the facts in the tax issues. Informed voters usually make the right decision.