Keeping you safe isn't cheap. It takes money to keep our cities safe and Benton County law enforcement agencies are encouraging you to vote in their favor to generate more financial support for their programs.
KENNEWICK, WA - Keeping you safe isn't cheap. It takes money to keep our cities safe and Benton County law enforcement agencies are encouraging you to vote in their favor to generate more financial support for their programs.
The Public Safety Sales Tax will cost you 0.3% on a purchase if the proposed tax passes on the ballot this August.
Law enforcement wants you to know that the community keeps growing, officer duties increase, but the resources to support a safe community haven't budged. They want the public vote "yes" for resources to better protect the community.
Sirens are the sound that help is on it's way, but it might take a while to reach you when you call 911. That is if the Public Safety Sales Tax doesn't pass, according to local officers.
"You may wait several hours before a police officer is able to come out and conduct an investigation and take a police report and that's not the level of service we truly want to give to our community," said Chief Ken Hohenberg, Kennewick Police Department.
Benton County Sheriff Steve Keane echoed Hohenbergs statements.
"Since 1995, our calls for service have gone up almost 111% and our resources haven't grown to match that issue that we're facing," Keane said.
The proposal would bump up sales tax across Benton County by 0.3% or 3 pennies on a $10 purchase, which amounts to about $87 annually for a family.
The tax will pay for 32 more police officers, justice system staff and several more services to protect the public and run a more efficient crime prevention program including creating a Mental Health Court.
Officers say they want to hold criminals accountable, but the mentally ill are suffering in jail and a Mental Health Court is a better way to deal with the issue.
"Somebody that is truly acting out, creating a risk to somebody else, when in fact there's other alternatives that could've kept them out of jail to begin with," Hohenberg said.
Keane says it's also not cheap for the taxpayer to keep mentally ill people behind bars when they could be getting the help they need.
"It's expensive to the tax payer. It's not just about the daily bed rate, it's the medications and the intense supervision to supervise somebody that's suffering. It's just not the right thing to do," Keane said.
Sheriff Keane and every police chief in Benton County signed a statement Tuesday supporting the Public Safety Sales Tax.
"Part of saying yes to this measure ensures the safety, security and liveability of pelivabilityll over the area," said Chief Chris Skinner, Richland Police Department.
Kennewick police tell us there is a 12% increase in crime and a whopping 86% increase in auto theft alone. Just another example why they want these funds.
The Public Safety Sales Tax will appear on the August 5th ballot.