Marysville voters to consider sales tax increase

Funds would be used for a new police and jail building, which are to become part of a civic campus.

MARYSVILLE — Next month, voters here will consider a ballot measure that would increase sales tax in the city.

The money from the tax would be used to pay for a new police and jail building.

That could start the wheels turning on additional plans to bring together city services on a new civic campus, planned on 6 acres between Fourth and Eighth streets near Comeford Park. A decade ago, that location was picked for a future civic center. The goal is to include the police, jail, municipal court, planning, City Hall and other services.

The police and jail building is the first priority, according to the city. That would be the focus of the Aug. 7 ballot measure.

Voters are being asked to increase the sales tax in Marysville by 0.1 percent. That’s 10 cents on a $100 purchase.

If approved, it would bring the sales tax in Marysville up to 9.2 percent, or $9.20 on a $100 purchase.

Two information sessions are planned this month: 6 p.m. July 9 at City Hall and July 18 at the Marysville Library. There will be a brief description of the measure and time to ask questions, according to a news release.

The existing police and jail building opened in 1986. The city’s population then was about 8,000. It now is nearing 70,000, and is expected to approach 90,000 by 2035.

“The footprint of the jail has not increased since it was built and it usually is full to capacity,” according to the news release. “Without a larger city jail, Marysville police officers would lose the ability to immediately arrest suspects for most misdemeanor crimes.”

The cost of a new public safety building is estimated at $23 million. The tax increase would bring in about $800,000 a year, which would cover roughly 70 percent of the annual payment on what is expected to be a 30-year bond for the project. The remainder would come from the city’s general fund.

In their reasoning for the measure, city leaders noted that police and jail needs are driven by those who live in the city and those who visit. A sales tax increase would be paid by residents and visitors. The City Council voted in April to put the measure on the ballot.

The plan is to build a 46,000-square-foot building with room for about 110 employees. There currently are 100 people working for the police department and jail.

The new jail would have 50 cells and hold up to 110 inmates.

If the measure passes, construction could begin in spring 2019 and be finished in 2020.

The city’s request isn’t the only sales tax measure Marysville voters can expect to see this year. The Snohomish County Council recently decided to put a measure on the November ballot that would raise the sales tax by 0.1 percent countywide to pay for replacing the emergency radio system for first responders.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com.

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