SEATTLE - King County Executive Dow Constantine is proposing a public vote on a possible sales-tax increase to avoid sharp cutbacks in county services.
At a press conference Wednesday where he was surrounded by the sheriff, the county prosecutor, and presiding judges, Constantine said the county needs to raise the sales tax if people don't want to face steep cuts in police, criminal prosecution, and courts.
The proposal would add another two cents tax on a $10 purchase in most of the county. That would mean a total of 97 cents sales tax on a $10 purchase.
"If voters approve, the County will be able to preserve the current level of critical public safety and health services. If voters do not approve, they will have chosen a lower level of these services," said Constantine.
"In order to make an informed decision, the voters need to know what services are at stake," said Sheriff Sue Rahr.
Rahr said her projected budget for 2011 would require the elimination of investigations of property crimes including auto theft, burglary, identity theft and shoplifting, as well as all drug investigations.
"I will have to reduce the service level in the following areas: bomb and hazardous materials disposal, marine patrol response, arson investigations, homicide investigations, sexual assault, child abuse, elder abuse and domestic violence investigations," she said.
Constantine said it's estimated that a two-tenths of a percent increase in the sales tax would add about $47 million in revenue next year.
The county council will decide on or before May 17 whether or not to put the proposal on the August primary ballot.