Possible Benton County Sales Taxes Initiative For Law Enforcement - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Possible Benton County Sales Taxes Initiative For Law Enforcement

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BENTON COUNTY, Wash. - Voters in Benton County will be asked whether or not they are willing to pay for a tax increase that would go directly to law enforcement.  

The sales tax initiative would be two-tenths of one percent, which would equal about 20 cents per 100 dollars.  The tax would not include certain major purchases like vehicles.  

There are five town hall meetings scheduled for each city in Benton County.   The meetings will give citizens more information about why some people feel that law enforcement need more money.

The idea of increasing the sales tax to pay for law enforcement was first developed by a group of citizens, The Benton County Criminal Justice Citizen's Advisory Committee.  The group has been studying the local criminal statistics and said there is not enough money being given to the police departments, especially with all the growth in the Tri-Cities.

The group originally wanted to ask voters for a sales tax increase of three tenths of one percent but Benton County Commissioners only approved two-tenths of 1 percent.  

West Richland Police Chief Layne Erdman said a lack of funding and less grant money has put a strain on police throughout the area.

He said right now there is not a lot of sales tax money generated in West Richland because of the lack of shopping centers.  If the initiative did pass, money collected would be distributed to each police department depending on size and resources. 

Erdman said that if it passed, West Richland residents that were spending money in other cities would essentially be putting money back into their police department.

Under this proposed initiative the taxes collect would go directly to law enforcement.

The City of West Richland will have their meeting September 11th.  Meetings for the other cities have not been announced.  KNDU will have the dates as soon as they are available.