YAKIMA - Yakima County commissioners yesterday approved adding a levy for criminal justice to the November ballot.
If approved, the levy would add 3/10's of a penny to the sales tax. The extra funds generated by the increase in the county sales tax will be used to help the Yakima County Sheriff's Department, as well as other law enforcement agencies in the county.
The tax increase would also benefit the Yakima County prosecutor's office, the district court, superior court, juvenile court, assigned council, the county clerk and the city municipal courts.
According to Yakima County Sheriff Ken Irwin, groceries, medical services and automobile sales and leases will be exempt from the tax increase. He said the tax would cost people three cents per $10 or 30 cents per $100 in purchases.
It is estimated that Sunnyside could expect to receive $252,000 per year. Grandview could expect as much as $149,000 and Yakima County could receive $3,665,000 per year for law enforcement.
Sixty percent of the funds raised through the new tax would benefit the county and the other 40 percent would be divided up between the communities in the county based on population.
Irwin said the tax would improve county-wide law enforcement, would help with the clean-up of gangs and drugs, and help better monitor sex offenders. He added that it would also pay to prosecute the increased number of serious crimes committed in Yakima County, and enhance the services in Lower Valley District Court.
The county-wide tax increase, if approved, would also help keep dangerous juveniles off the streets and help retain officers and support staff, according to Irwin.