Barry County’s Sheriff explains the need for law enforcement sales tax
CASSVILLE, Mo. (KY3) - A sales tax increase aimed to support the growing needs of the Barry County Sheriff’s Office is on the ballot on April 5.
The county is asking voters to consider a half-cent sales tax increase. That would mean 50 cents for every $100 spent would go towards the funding. The county says it could amount to about $2 million each year.
The money would support the Barry County Sheriff’s Office, the prosecuting attorney, and the juvenile office. Barry County Sheriff Danny Boyd said there are several things the tax could help with. For starters, he said it could help secure competitive pay for his officers.
“We have two municipalities in our county that pay more than us,” Sheriff Boyd said. “So you have a lot less room to cover there and they get paid more money. I mean, why would you not go do that?”
Boyd said higher wages would help his office and make the job more attractive.
“We’re trying to get our wages up to comparable to the larger cities in our county to help keep these people here and to get us more officers here that are better qualified,” he said.
Sheriff Boyd said his office is working to get back to full staff, but he said the tax levy would help them hire additional first responders as well.
“We would like to go beyond that,” the sheriff said.” And if this passes we will be able to do that because right now we usually have two officers per shift and we would like to have three per shift. That gives us better coverage for the county, better response times, and it’s better protection for the citizens of Barry County.”
Sheriff Boyd said response can be limited right now, and it could become even more challenging if the proposal does not pass.
“If this did not pass, we are going to have to change the way we do some of our operations here within our department,” he said. “That includes what kind of calls we’ll be going to. We’re still going to respond to calls just like we normally do, but they may be put on a priority list. It will tarnish the way we do business a little bit.”
Sheriff Boyd said his crews would be able to expand their coverage if it passes. He said it can take nearly an hour for a deputy to get to some parts of the county, like Shell Knob. He said he would ideally like to assign officers to the southern and northern parts of the county.
The tax increase would go towards training as well. Sheriff Boyd said it would also help with equipment needs, including new tasers and body cameras.
“What I tell people is that it’s just like a cellphone,” Sheriff Boyd described. “It’s an electronic device. Every two or three years you need to get a new cellphone. Every two or three years a taser or body cam is outdated. So we need to always be renewing and getting new equipment. It can really tarnish my officers’ safety and it can really affect the citizens of Barry County.”
The proposal would also help the Barry County Sheriff’s Office acquire new firearms. Sheriff Boyd said his crews all currently have their personal handguns, which he said can create challenges in the field.
“Right now if one officer carries one type of firearm and another carries a different one and we get in a shootout, which I hope we don’t, we run into possibly not having the right type of ammo for one another,” he said. “We got to be able to correlate so that everyone is carrying the same type of firearm.”
Sheriff Boyd said the sales tax would be on items purchased within the county. This means not only would Barry County residents be helping with the funds, but so would any county visitors and tourists. Citizens of the county would not be funding the increase on their own, Boyd said.
The sheriff said he has heard positive feedback on the tax increase, but has also heard some pushback. He said one major concern from those pushing back has been about building a new jail. Boyd said that is an entirely different issue.
“This does not affect getting the new jail,” he said. “None of that money out of our law enforcement fund can go towards any of the construction of our new facility. It is worded in there that the money cannot go towards a new jail.”
Sheriff Boyd said the funding would help his office become more sustainable overall. He said he hopes voters do turn out on election day.
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