Spokane County commissioners may be divided on transit, but they're backing the other ballot measure in this month's special election - an extension of a 20-year-old sales tax that pays for juvenile jail services.
Al French, Shelly O'Quinn and Todd Mielke all voted in support of the sales tax extension at a meeting Monday morning. It was first instituted in 1995, and has been extended by a majority of Spokane County voters three times since then. Bonnie Bush, director of Juvenile Court Services for the county, said the money from the sales tax is vital to several programs in her department, including mentoring for juvenile offenders, reporting programs for juveniles on probation and electronic monitoring.
"The Court’s programs reduces juvenile recidivism, cuts long term costs, creates better citizens and safer neighborhoods," Bush wrote in a prepared statement. "The Juvenile/Jail Sales Tax supports these programs."
The unanimous support for the juvenile sales tax ballot measure does not extend to the other item on the ballot, a new three-tenths sales tax that would fund Spokane Transit Authority service extensions.
French supports the measure, while O'Quinn and Mielke have said the project is too costly. Their disagreement led to a spat at a county meeting earlier this month, where Mielke called out French for using county airtime to discuss the transit issue. Those on both sides of the proposal are publicly arguing about the costs and benefits of the transit plans in the lead-up to Election Day on April 28.
Spokane County has mailed more than 275,000 ballots for the special election to voters, which began arriving in mailboxes this weekend. For more information on how to vote, visit the Spokane County Elections website.