Two Spokane City Council members wonder if you'd pay higher taxes for more cops

click to enlarge Councilman Breean Beggs - DANIEL WALTERS PHOTO
Daniel Walters photo
Councilman Breean Beggs

It's a risky move for a political candidate to propose new property taxes the year they're running for office. But mayoral candidate Ben Stuckart — and potential City Council president candidate Breean Beggs — have both thrown their support behind sending a property tax levy to the voters intending to pay for new police officers and to maintain the current number of firefighters in the city.

For the last few years, the increasing amount of sales tax revenue from the recovering economy has allowed the city to make modest investments into improving public safety. But in the last few months, Stuckart says, that growth has begun to flatline. Not only that, but a 2016 grant that paid for 48 new firefighters starts to run out next fall.

By putting a measure on the February special election ballot, Beggs and Stuckart argue, they'd give voters a chance to consider whether they want to pay a higher property tax rate in order to pay for the salaries of 30 firefighters and 20 additional police officers.

"I think the citizens need to have a voice," Stuckart says. He says that because the city doesn't have enough property crime detectives, victims sometimes don't get called back even when they have a reasonable suspicion about who the suspect is.

Beggs says he insisted that the city also be allowed to use that money for the sort of criminal justice reform measures — like supervising criminals or providing them with services — that could reduce crime in the long run.

"It's not enough to simply arrest people," Beggs says.

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