Opinion

County just needs to be more efficient

Sound Off is a public forum. Articles are selected from letters to the editor or may be written specifically for this feature. Today, Port Orchard attorney Bruce Danielson argues the county doesn’t need a sales tax increase for law and justice.

Kitsap County is requesting a local sales tax increase of .15 percent to help fund “law and justice.” The purported reason for this tax increase is to improve law enforcement and to protect our citizens.

In reality, this money will not be dedicated to any specific purpose. Let’s set the record straight.

Sixty percent of the tax revenue would go to Kitsap County. The other 40 percent is to be divided among the city’s of Port Orchard, Bremerton, Poulsbo and Bainbridge Island. There is no requirement as to how, where, or what manner this money is to be spent.

It is simply a blank check for bureaucrats.

Before we ask for more tax money, we should be asking if Kitsap County is being financially responsible, recovering all possible revenue, and protecting its citizens in the process. A cursory review of only a few files and dockets indicates that Kitsap County is possibly losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue and not always protecting its citizens from the most dangerous criminals.

I offer as an example the case of Dwayne Gregory Hulley. Mr. Hulley was charged with a violent home invasion robbery in Kitsap County in 2003. Mr. Hulley was arrested and his bail was set at $100,000. GM Bonding of Port Orchard posted bail for Mr. Hulley in the sum of $100,000.

When he to appear for his next hearing, a bench warrant was issued for the arrest of Mr. Hulley and bail was increased to $500,000 — cash only.

Mr. Hulley was next heard of in Canada. Following a 40-minute standoff with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Hulley was arrested in British Columbia.

In the RCMP news release, Mr. Hulley was referred to as “a dangerous fugitive who was wanted in the United States for armed robbery and arson in connection with a violent home invasion, which occurred in November 2003 in Kitsap County, Wash.”

Where is Mr. Hulley now? Does Kitsap County care?

It is my understanding that Canadian authorities had to release Mr. Hulley after Kitsap County failed to have him extradited. In Kitsap County, we have four victims — one of whom is a child — who should be rightfully concerned about their safety should this violent man decide to seek revenge. And the county has a potentially serious and very costly civil lawsuit should Mr. Hulley harm any of his former victims or other innocent citizens.

When a defendant skips bail, it is the responsibility of the prosecutor’s office’s to collect the forfeited bail. In review of the Hulley criminal court file, no evidence proves that the bail bond of $100,000 has been paid.

I could not find any pending legal action commenced by the prosecutors office to collect this forfeited bail bond of $100,000. (An interesting question: Why is a bonding company which is already in debt allowed to continue to write bail in Kitsap County?)

From all evidence, Kitsap County pursues very few bail forfeitures. For instance, Acme Bail Bonds writes bail in both Pierce and Kitsap County. Pierce County has several judgments against Acme Bail Bonds but there appear to be no judgments in Kitsap County against Acme Bail Bonds.

Is Kitsap County collecting its bail bonds without protest, or is Kitsap County dropping the ball?

I find it inconsistent to believe that a bail bond company always pays Kitsap County forfeited bail and never pays Pierce County. Kitsap County has not only failed to collect money due and owing to the county, but it has also let a violent criminal walk free.

In addition, I find it very interesting that one of the claims for the tax increase is to fund additional police officers. This is the same county that refused to negotiate in good faith with the men and women of the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Department over pay and benefits.

After years of haggling, the matter was forced to binding arbitration with the Sheriff’s Guild, which subsequently recovered more than it originally asked.

How many tax payers’ dollars were wasted on this bad faith litigation? How high was the cost of lost morale suffered by the Sheriff’s Officers?

Kitsap County was not supportive of our current hard-working police officers, yet it now claims to want more money to hire additional officers.

This tax automatically expires in five years. Should this tax be approved, how could Kitsap County in good faith offer new jobs with an expiration date of five years?

Even a 5-year-old understands the difference between need and want. In our household, we have a saying: “It’s not how much you make, but how much you spend.” It is not the amount of tax revenue that is important, but rather how that tax money is utilized.

We do not need a tax increase.

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