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No May election in Spokane County

Spokane County voters will be asked to extend a one-tenth of 1 percent sales tax for criminal justice programs in the August primary rather than May. County commissioners, who had scheduled a May special election last month, rescheduled it for two reasons on Tuesday: to save money, and to stay legal.

A countywide May special election, in which the sales tax extension would have been the sole item on the ballot, would cost the county about $300,000, County Auditor Vicky Dalton said. Splitting the cost with other jurisdictions that have elections on the August primary will cost between $150,000 and $200,000.

A check of the state statute that allows the sales tax to be levied also showed the law requires it be approved at a primary or general election, Chief Civil Deputy Prosecutor Jim Emacio said. Commissioners approved a resolution that would put the proposal automatically on the general election ballot if it fails in August.

The proposal would add an extra 1 cent in sales tax for every $10 of taxable purchases. Food and prescription drugs are exempt from sales tax in Washington.

The money raised is split between the county and cities and towns. One th ird of it is dedicated to criminal justice programs, the rest to programs to be specified in the ballot measure.

The sales tax was approved by voters in 2004 with a five-year limit. This year’s proposal will request a 10-year-limit.

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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