Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868
October 08, 2013
DALLAS -- The Dallas City Council is officially behind Polk County's public safety levy, voting Monday night to issue a letter stating its support.
Voters in Polk County will be deciding the fate of the four-year, 60 cents per $1,000 of assessed value property tax levy during the Nov. 5 election. The money, approximately $3 million per year, will be directed to the county's public safety departments: sheriff and jail, district attorney, community corrections and juvenile.
Before voting on the support letter, the council heard a presentation on the levy by Polk County Administrator Greg Hansen.
"The reason behind the levy is, obviously, we don't have adequate money to maintain those services," Hansen said.
He said the number of county public safety department employees have fallen from 112 positions in 2008 to the current 81.
Staffing shortages have forced Sheriff Bob Wolfe to end 24-hour patrols and District Attorney Aaron Felton to settle more minor misdemeanor crimes.
Councilor Kevin Marshall asked how much 60 cents per $1,000 would boost county public safety service.
Hansen said the levy would restore full sheriff's patrols, assure the existence of the Polk County Interagency Narcotics Team (POINT), and add staff back to the district attorney's office. The remainder of the money would be distributed as needed. The exact amounts going to each department will be determined through the county's budget committee process.
Hansen said the amount the county levies would take into account any revenue from the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program, commonly referred to as federal timber payments. Polk County is slated to receive about $750,000 after a one-year extension of the program was approved.
He added the need for a levy likely would be ongoing -- short a long-term and Congressionally approved replacement to the current SRS legislation.
"I don't see us not needing this in the future," Hansen said.
Councilor Jackie Lawson asked what would happen after four years if the levy were approved by voters.
"What happens then? What's the plan? she asked.
"The plan is we would probably go back before the voters and ask for it again," Hansen responded," unless there's been a change in the property tax structure or there has been a rapid increase in assessed value in the county."
The council unanimously approved allowing Mayor Brian Dalton to draft and issue the letter of support.