Snohomish County Council sends public safety sales tax to voters in November

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The Snohomish County Council on Wednesday unanimously approved the inclusion of a public safety sales tax levy on the Nov. 5, 2024, general election ballot. The levy was proposed by Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers and the council approved sending it to the ballot on a 5-0 vote.

If approved by voters in November, the levy would cost 2 cents per $10 purchase, costing the average resident less than a dollar a week, the county said in a news release. The revenue from the sales tax would be split, with 60% going to Snohomish County and the remaining 40% going to cities by population and depending on if they have enacted their own local sales tax. Over 50% of the funding would be used by the county for criminal justice purposes and the remaining for other public safety priorities.

“We know that the public has been asking for creative solutions to the drug crisis because of the negative impacts it is having on individuals, businesses and our community,” Somers said. “We need to ensure accountability for those committing crimes while we marshal compassion to ensure people get the help they need.”

Snohomish County Council Chair Jared Mead said: ‘By creating new programs and beefing up our criminal justice tools, we can do more to combat the drug crisis and resulting crime. The voters now can weigh in on whether they want us to deploy these new tools and enhance our criminal justice agencies.”

According to the news release, levy approval means the county can:

– Hire more law enforcement officers to ensure the cartels, drug dealers and criminals will be held accountable.

– Add more resources to the prosecuting attorney’s office, public defense and courts to ensure those arrested for crimes can be prosecuted.

– Establish a secure drug withdrawal management facility in Snohomish County to provide more capacity for those who need to get clean, increasing the 77 beds that are now available statewide.

– Establish a second community resource center to help get people connected with services.

– Increase treatment services for addiction in the county jail.

– Create programs to address graffiti, derelict vehicles and other visible signs of the opioid crisis.

“We know that the complex public safety challenges we face require new investments,” said County Councilmember Strom Peterson. “As a growing county, we need to take the next steps to ensure the safety and health of all our residents. The public will now have an opportunity to decide if this is a priority.”

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