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What is Question 1 on the April 4, 2017 ballot?
Voter approval of Question 1 would dedicate a one-fourth of one percent sales tax to be used for Cass County law enforcement. By law, this portion of the sales tax will fund only law enforcement activities.
How would the sales tax be used for law enforcement in Cass County?
Sales tax funds will be used to fight increasing crime. Beginning in budget year 2018, the funding would provide additional Sheriff’s Office personnel, and help fill existing vacancies. There are currently 14 vacancies. The funding will allow reinstatement of a step-salary plan (discontinued in 2009 due to lack of funding) and payment or use of earned Sheriff’s Office holiday and vacation time (allow people time off).
The sales tax will also provide additional funding for Prosecuting Attorney’s Office personnel and salary adjustments, Sheriff’s Office equipment, and will make possible a law enforcement reserve fund for unforeseen costs and/or unfunded state and federal mandates.
Why is additional funding for law enforcement needed?
Existing funding is not keeping pace with Cass County’s growth and law enforcement needs. Cass County is among the top 10 fastest-growing counties in Missouri. County population has increased 60 percent since 1990. While good growth has occurred, crime has also risen. Calls for service, dispatch incidents, and jail inmates have increased 100 percent since 1999.
The law enforcement sales tax will help fill current Sheriff’s Office vacancies, including 10 deputy positions. In 2016, Cass County experienced a 100 percent increase in the number of days inmates were housed in the jail since 2000. The inmate to deputy ratio at the jail averages 35 inmates to one deputy. The Bureau of Prisons standard ratio is five inmates to one deputy.
The costs to house inmates have significantly increased since 2000. At that time it cost approximately $1.67 million each year. Now, the cost is more than $3.6 million a year. Inmate costs are approximately $71 a day and are expected to increase.
Existing resources necessitate that the Sheriff’s Office act reactively, not proactively. The investigations capacity is not keeping pace, and the former Criminal Apprehension Unit is no longer active. The Sheriff’s Office no longer has a Traffic Enforcement Unit.
Additional funding will also address employee merit and holiday/vacation pay. Cass County deputies have not had merit pay raises since 2009, and have limited holiday or vacation pay. The Sheriff’s Office lost four positions in 2010, and experienced personnel are leaving. The Sheriff’s Office is not retaining experienced people or attracting employees because of compensation deficiencies.
What are other needs that will be supported by the law enforcement sales tax?
Increased crime is impacting judges and court personnel. Security screened 78,433 individuals through court in 2016. Additional funding is necessary for the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office to address several areas, including:
What law enforcement services does Cass County provide our cities?
Cass County Sheriff’s Office services are provided to all county residents, not just to the rural areas throughout 700 square miles. Currently, that means a deputy is covering 174 square miles.
When a serious crime occurs in any Cass County city, the warrant is issued to the Sheriff’s Office, not the municipality. The Sheriff’s Office picks up the suspect, holds, feeds, medicates, and transports them to and from court.
When Cass County cities need backup and special assistance, it’s the Sheriff’s Office that often provides services, including:
In addition, the Sheriff’s Office provides services for traffic crashes on the highways in our area, such as on I-49, Highway 291, Highway 2, Highway 58, and Highway 7.
The Sheriff’s Office also provides D.A.R.E. for six school districts.
Overall, the Sheriff’s Office currently does not have the resources to keep up with the demands for law enforcement.
What is the revenue expected from the law enforcement sales tax?
The estimated revenue is $3 million per year.
How much will the law enforcement sales tax cost?
The sales tax will be less than one cent (.0085) on the cost for an average gallon of milk.
Who pays the sales tax?
Unlike property taxes that are paid by residents of Cass County, sales tax is paid by residents and non-residents through the purchase of goods (from a gallon of milk to building materials) within the County boundaries.
What happens should the law enforcement sales tax fail?
Without additional funding for law enforcement, several consequences will occur in Cass County. It is likely that crime will increase. Property values will decrease, neighborhoods will deteriorate, and the safe quality of life in Cass County will be in danger.
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