Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Sheriff Budrow requests sales tax increase to fund public safety

Targeted for 2024 ballot


(Editor’s note: Quotes in the following story about the July 17 meeting of the Board of Commissioners of Okanogan County (BOCC) are taken from notes provided by Okanogan County Watch (

OKANOGAN – County Sheriff Paul Budrow wants a .2 percent increase in the county’s sales tax from 8.5 percent to 8.7 percent to raise additional funds for public safety expenses. That was the message Budrow took to the Board of Okanogan County Commissioners at their bi-monthly meeting July 17.

Budrow told the commissioners he just recently learned of the opportunity and was hoping to make the August 1 deadline to get the measure on the upcoming November 2023 general election ballot.

Commissioner Andy Hover calculated that about $800,000 is raised through the .1 percent increase so the extra one-tenth of one percent would generate about $1,600,000. The funds would be dispersed with 60 percent going to the county and 40 percent to the cities.

Commissioner Jon Neal agreed that while every law enforcement agency is struggling for dollars a thorough public information effort has to come first.

Commissioner Chris Branch wants to continue the public’s approval of past requests.

“We’ve been successful two times already, for juvenile and communications and we came out with a pretty good plan,” said Branch. “For juvenile, it was about private contracting. With communications, Officer (Mike) Worden (Chief Deputy of Communications) did a good job of getting the information out about that.”

Branch cautioned preparation and information.

“If we fail the first time, it may be harder the second time,” Branch cautioned.

Budrow said his public feedback favors more investment in law enforcement.

“I think this is the time to do it. They’re in favor of what we’re doing and the way we’re moving forward,” said Budrow. “With the new drug law coming in effect, the small towns will be affected. The prosecutor’s office and defenders will be inundated with processes…law enforcement safety is going in the wrong direction right now.”

Commissioner Andy Hover inquired about how the funds would be dispersed.

“You’ve got a lot of things on your list,” said Hover, “police officers, corrections officers, prosecutors, funding the drug task force, crime prevention efforts, and court and clerk programs. Would we have a set percentage that go into each category?”

Hover added that putting the measure on this year’s ballot would be difficult without public outreach and a solid plan.

“How will it increase public safety?” asked Hover. “The only metrics I hear is: how will it stop property crime or put more people in jail? How come the same guy isn’t in jail and keeps stealing my stuff?”

Hover said that minus the metrics, voters will have a hard time seeing how the money would be spent.”

“If the measure passes anytime in 2024, it will not take effect until 2025,” said Hover. “We need to develop a plan, how much for more cops, how much for more vehicles, how much for the prosecutor’s office, how much for the jail? Then people will know exactly what we’re doing.”

Hover suggested that Budrow get input from people and in the towns.

“They’ll get money out of this,” said Hover. “Find out how much each city will get.”

“And get it set up for the primary,” said Neal. “If it fails, we can have another try in November.”

Budrow agreed to invest more due diligence and the commissioners will consider a sales tax increase on the 2024 ballot.


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