The Clark County Council will likely have to go back to the drawing board to find funding for body and dash cameras for the sheriff’s office.
Initial election results on Tuesday evening had Proposition 10 failing to get voter approval. The ballot measure had 55.93 percent of votes against the measure to 44.07 percent in favor.
Proposition 10 would create a 0.1 percent (or one-tenth of 1 percent) sales tax. But rather than directly fund the purchase and support for body and dash cameras, the tax would have instead paid for existing juvenile and jail services. Then money from the general fund that would have gone to those services would instead go to the body camera program.
That funding structure may have been its undoing. Chuck Green, who serves on the county’s Charter Review Commission, said some voters he spoke with felt the county was playing a “shell game” with the funding.
In addition, “this county has been tax-averse for a long time,” Green added.
The county council had considered two options to increase revenue. The first option was a public safety tax, which also would have been 0.1 percent. Under this option, the tax would generate the necessary increase in revenue to “provide critical law and justice services in Clark County including body worn cameras,” according to the county. However, this option would have required the county to split the revenue with cities in the county.
With 25,000 ballots still to be counted, the proposition could still pass. If it passes, the tax would be in effect for 10 years starting on April 1, 2022, and expire March 31, 2032. It would raise an estimated $6 million per year and pay for equipment costs, as well as training, data storage needs, employees to process public records requests and discovery requests, and additional expenses for the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and the indigent defense program, according to a staff report. Taxes collected over the 10-year span are anticipated to cover program expenses for 30 years.
It’s unclear what the county will do if the measure fails. The county previously said it did not have money in the general fund to pay for the body and dash cameras and that it would be up to voters to pay for them.
Be sure to check www.columbian.com for updated election results.