I don’t like paying higher taxes anymore than the next guy.
That’s probably something we can all agree on, but …. sometimes, we need to face the fact that those extra few pennies could make a big difference in our future, and in this case, the future of law enforcement in Butler County.
Those extra pennies — 25 cents on $100 — could make a huge impact on the future operations of the Butler County Sheriff’s Department and the Butler County Justice Center at a time when budget shortfalls have necessitated the laying off of five employees to date.
Four of those employees were deputies, deputies who could be out patrolling Butler County’s 699 square miles and protecting its 42,000 citizens.
As it is, some days there is only one deputy on duty to cover the entire county, which not only delays response times, but also is a cause for concern for that deputy if he finds himself in a volatile situation without back up.
As a person who has had several law enforcement officers in her family tree over the years, knowing they were without back up would have amped up my concern for their safety.
But, you and I can do something about whether this bleak picture continues or becomes rosier with the casting of a ballot.
In an effort to bolster the manpower at the sheriff’s department, the county commission has placed a law enforcement sales tax on the Aug. 4 ballot.
The quarter-cent sales tax would be dedicated to providing funding for the current and future operations of the sheriff’s department.
Knowing no one likes to pay higher taxes, there are a couple points I want to emphasize about this tax.
First, it’s a sales tax. It will be collected on anything I, or anyone else, buy in Butler County.
That means those of us living in Butler County won’t be the only ones paying. All those who come here to work and shop — picture of the massive crowds that hit the stores for Black Friday sales — will be contributing.
Also kicking in would be the thousands who come here to recreate each year, including those out-of-towners who attend events at Brick’s Off Road Park.
In years’ past, deputies have responded to calls for service, ranging from assaults to property damage to thefts, at Brick’s involving out-of-towners. While they are in need of service, they’re not paying for those deputies’ time. You are. I am.
The second thing I want to point out is this tax will not be assessed on online purchases (it’s not a use tax, which is what has been defeated in Poplar Bluff several times now) or on real estate or personal property (the levies paid to the school districts).
It all comes down to what you and I spend and how much. And, for each of us, that amount is going to vary from day to day and week to week.
If I’m out shopping for a new pair of tennis shoes at Academy Sports + Outdoors or a new outfit at J.C. Penney, am I really going to notice the extra pennies? Probably not.
But, am I going to notice if I need a deputy to respond, and no one is available? You bet! And, I bet you would too.
As we go to the polls for the August primary election, I encourage everyone to take a moment to consider how much your safety and that of you family is worth.
Is it worth enough to vote yes?
Michelle Friedrich is a staff writer for the Daily American Republic and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.