Monroe levy would hike taxes to aid police

MONROE — People who live in Monroe likely will be asked to approve a sales tax increase to support police services.

The city council on Tuesday night voted to move forward with the proposed levy, Monroe Police Chief Tim Quenzer said.

If approved, the levy would add one-tenth-of-one-percent to Monroe’s sales tax, now at 8.6 percent. That’s 10 cents per $100. The levy will be scheduled for the primary election ballot in August, he said.

The city hasn’t submitted the paperwork yet, but similar measures typically require 50 percent of the vote to pass, said Garth Fell, county elections manager.

Voters did not approve a similar levy Monroe ran in 2011. The new levy would generate an estimated $309,353 in annual revenue, Quenzer said. State law would require Monroe to give about $46,400 of that to the county. The rest would go to the city for crime and justice needs.

If the levy is approved, the money would be used to hire two police officers, Quenzer said. Anything left over would be put aside for costly investigations, namely homicides, and equipment.

“The police department since 2009 has been operating basically on a bare-bones budget,” he said. “If anything out of the ordinary would occur, we couldn’t keep up with it.”

Monroe has 29 funded commissioned police officer positions, not including the chief and deputy chief. That includes three vacancies that are expected to be filled. That’s down about six positions from 2009.

Support staffing has been cut too, Quenzer said. One officer was hired in 2012, Quenzer said. He recently graduated from the police academy and should be on the road this spring.

The Monroe police budget for 2013 is $5.2 million. If voters approve the sale tax increase, it would start being collected in January 2014. Primary election ballots mail out in July.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com

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