Opinion

Sales tax hike is a want, not a need

“You mentioned you didn’t have enough information on the Law and Justice sales tax proposal that will be on the Sept. 20 ballot,” said County Prosecutor Russell Hauge. “Here’s some.”

He gave me copies and outlines of how the recipients of the sales tax planned to spend their share if the 0.15 increase is approved by the taxpayers in their first all-mail primary election.

Now, the most noticeable thing about this tax, which would be 15 cents per $100 spent on all taxable items except purchase and lease of motor vehicles, is that it can only be used for new programs. It cannot supplant any existing services.

And yet it would expire in five years.

That apparently is the carrot on the stick by proponents. You folks give us this additional money to do a better job of protection and law enforcement and in 2010, you can signal your satisfaction or dissatisfaction by voting to continue it or cancel it.

By the way, if 2010 rings a little bell in your head, that’s the year the new NASCAR race track is scheduled to open if it’s built here.

Anyway, a few facts about this tax increase:

n It would raise about $4.5 million if in effect for this year.

n Effective date would probably be Jan. 1, 2006, since county commissioners have to pass an ordinance establishing the tax and set up the machinery for collecting it.

n Proceeds would be split with 60 percent going to the county and 40 percent divided among the four cities according to population.

n The tax would in-crease from 8.6 to 8.75.

Kitsap County proposes to spend its first $2.5 million on additional staff in the Sheriff’s Office, Prosecutor’s Office and Superior Court. Incidentally, while Sheriff Steve Boyer has endorsed the tax, the Sheriff’s Guild has not, saying we have enough deputies already.

I don’t know why anyone runs for Sheriff here, when it’s a never-ending battle with employees who think they should be calling the shots. It’s like Boeing and its unions.

Bremerton is all for the tax, of course. Can you imagine Mayor Cary Bozeman turning down new money? He’d get $880,000 and want to hire more police officers and specialists.

Port Orchard has four for its police department in mind for its $176,000.

Poulsbo decided to play it cool and neither support nor oppose the tax, saying its police department and city court are doing just fine, but will take its $154,000 and spend it on a three-person special emphasis team if voters say yes.

Bainbridge Island would spend its $462,000 on additional police and special employees.

Now, do we need this tax increase?

Not really. It’s a question of whether you’re willing to spend more for additional police and court presence. That’s up to you.

We can never really have too many law enforcement officers. It’s too bad the people aren’t as susceptible to spending money on protection as they are to the pleas from the fat education bureaucracy that all that’s needed to turn out smarter kids is a steady flow of money that nobody seems to be able to account for at the classroom level.

I think the sunset clause is a mistake. Remember when the feds initiated revenue sharing? They told us in no uncertain terms that this was only a temporary thing and the money would eventually dry up, so don’t spend it on anything you aren’t willing to fund on your own in the future.

Public officials didn’t listen, of course, and hired new people, thus committing their constituents to either replacing the federal revenue or laying off employees in droves.

Thus the bureaucracy growth.

One last thing. The resignation of Bremerton Police Chief Rob Forbes wasn’t a surprise to many in law enforcement. A good and conscientious man, he had become disillusioned to the point he could not remain in the job any longer. There’s a lot more to this bubbling under the surface.

Adele Ferguson can be reached at P.O. Box 69, Hansville, WA, 98340.

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