Sheriff aims to have tax measure on November ballot

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EPHRATA — Grant County Sheriff Tom Jones told county commissioners on Monday that he hopes to have a proposed three-tenths of one percent sales tax increase on the ballot for county voters this November.

“We’re moving forward with that,” Jones said.

The tax, which would raise an estimated $5.8 million county-wide, would be dedicated specifically to law enforcement. Under the current formula, the proposed sales tax would have to be split 60-40 with the cities in which it is collected, leaving the Grant County Sheriff’s Office (GCSO) with roughly $3.5 in estimated additional revenue.

Jones told commissioners he was preparing a presentation to give to police chiefs and city managers across Grant County to talk about the measure, noting that Quincy “is in the black” and was okay with all additional sales tax monies collected in Quincy going to the GCSO if the measure is approved.

The sheriff also asked commissioners to help cover the cost of a school resource officer (SRO) for the Wahluke School District. Jones said his department has had a contract with Wahluke for roughly a decade, and district administrators recently asked why the schools were paying a full-year salary for a sheriff’s deputy when school is only is session for 180 days.

“Quincy and Moses Lake have SROs, and the district pays for them when they are in session,” Jones said.

“Wahluke wanted an SRO from the county, but there were no county funds,” said Undersheriff Ryan Rectenwald. “So we said, ‘if you want it, you need to pay for it all.’”

Jones said it would cost the county around $34,000 to pick up those costs for the Wahluke resource officer. That includes overtime and mileage, the sheriff added.

“I think it’s really good to have the county absorb that $34,000,” said Commissioner Cindy Carter.

The sheriff added, however, that he is not interested in providing resource officers to any other school district in the county.

“I’m not wanting to get into that business,” he told commissioners.

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached at cfeatherstone@columbiabasinherald.com.

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