What's next for the public safety sales tax - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

What's next for the public safety sales tax

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BENTON COUNTY, WA - $13 million: that's how much money the public safety sales tax has in the bank to help local programs and organizations. But $36 million worth of requests to use that money have come in now.

Some requests are for more school resource officers, needle exchange programs, even paying off the mortgage for safe harbor.

Since the county opened up the opportunity for non-profits or government groups to request funds... they've received 33 proposals. It adds up to $36 million - way more than the $13 million they have. 

So now, there's a committee involving the prosecutor's office to look over those requests since there are some legal issues regarding who the money can be given to and how it can be spent.

Today we spoke with Commissioner Jerome Delvin, who says saving the money for the future could also be a possibility. He told us he wants to be a good shepherd of taxpayer dollars and not just spend money to spend it.

"I think we're out to have some sort of a cushion... because we start putting these programs in place and then something comes along that's better and makes sense, and then we don't have the resources to do it... then we're stuck," Delvin explained.

So what's next?

The committee will meet two more times to narrow down the 33 proposals. They'll look at the legal and financial measures to make sure the requests fit within the Washington State RCW and local ballot title as well as how financially viable the proposals are. Then they'll come back to the board and present their recommendations. 

Comissioner Delvin says they hope to have this figured out before their budget process starts by the end of July, so they can prepare for what needs to be funded.

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