Measure would raise sales tax in Adams County to support law enforcement

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A measure on the November ballot will ask Adam County residents to approve a .03 percent increase in sales taxes to help support law enforcement and the county’s criminal justice system.

Adams County Sheriff Dale Wagner said he and other police departments in the county support Proposition 1. The sheriff’s office has seen a personnel shortfall in the last few years, Wagner said, and revenue from the tax would help by paying for additional road deputies, dispatch and jail staff.

The sheriff’s office hasn’t just been struggling with increased demand, but a smaller pool employee pool. Before 2013, Wagner said, the sheriff’s office had 18 to 20 road deputies. Five years later, there are only 16, Wagner continued.

“And only 14 guys that are actually working the road,” Wagner continued.

That shortfall puts a strain on deputies currently on the force, Wagner said.

“When you’re shorthanded, you’re dealing with longer shifts, a lot more overtime, you’re dealing with tired and overworked staff,” said Wagner. “When you have calls for service increasing about 200 to 300 per year, it’s a burden when you don’t have the people to do the work.”

The new tax would generate an estimated $500,000 to $750,000 per year, according to officials with the Adams County Auditor, which oversees county elections. Adams County would retain 60 percent of the revenue generated from the sales and use tax and 40 percent will be distributed to cities in the county.

Adams County residents currently pay a 7.7 percent sales tax, the lowest among surrounding counties, Wagner said.

“Everybody else is 8 percent and above,” Wagner said. “We’re just trying to get to the average, and it’s going to help us tremendously.”

Because a sales tax would also affect consumers passing through the county, the proposition would be less of a burden on local residents than other types of taxes, such as a property tax, Wagner said.

“Most of it will be paid for by travel — people passing through the county to shop at the Walmart or shop at the convenience stores,” Wagner said.

The proposition would take effect Jan. 1, 2019, if approved by voters this November.

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