Benton County Public Safety Sales Tax questions answered, but no - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Benton County Public Safety Sales Tax questions answered, but no solution found

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BENTON COUNTY, WA - A lot of people in Benton County have questions about the Public Safety Sales Tax. Voters passed the 0.3 percent sales tax back in 2014 to improve public safety by paying for more police officers on our streets and adding to the criminal justice system. But some taxpayers think their money isn’t going towards what it was intended for.

Benton County Commission Chairman Jerome Delvin addressed a pretty heated question today: why there's more than $15 million in the reserve fund from a public safety sales tax.

The tax ended up generating quite a bit more money than expected. Kennewick, Prosser and Richland got well over a million dollars each, with Kennewick getting over $2 million to spend on public safety. With more than $15 million left over, Delvin says he doesn't want to spend money just to spend money.

"If there's still money in there, I don't know what to do," said Delvin. "If there was a way to turn it back to the taxpayers, we would do it believe me. I mean it's a burden, it's kind of a catch-22. No one anticipated it, the amount of revenue that would come in, or that has come in."

Like Commissioner Delvin said, he doesn't know what to do with those extra funds. After today's heated meeting at the Benton County Justice Center, there's still no solution.

Commissioners are planning another meeting soon to talk about this again. We'll keep you updated as the decision comes down.

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