by Terri Wiebold
A penny on the dollar – that is what Douglas County residents currently pay in total sales and use tax. Of that one penny (or one percent), .023 is currently allocated to the Douglas County Justice Center.
Residents will vote in November whether or not to continue the existing tax, which is scheduled to sunset (expire) at the end of 2010. This is not a tax increase, but a continuation of the tax already in existence.
The Justice Center Sales and Use Tax was established in 1995 to build and operate a Justice Center in Douglas County. The Justice Center opened in 1998 and currently serves all Douglas County citizens in both incorporated and unincorporated areas.
Douglas County Sheriff David Weaver formed a Citizen’s Public Safety Advisory Committee to review policies and procedures within the Sheriff’s Department and to assess current and future needs to ensure that present public safety levels are maintained.
This citizen committee is spearheading the effort to extend the existing Justice Center Sales and Use tax, recommending it be done in the following manner: extend .010 in perpetuity to help offset new ongoing operational costs; and extend .013 for ten additional years after sunset in 2010 to cover capital needs.
According to Advisory Committee Chairman Ed Brewer, there are some very important factors to consider about this tax continuation:
Statistics show that the Douglas County rate of prisoner growth has and will continue to surpass the rate of population growth per thousand in Douglas County (according to a private study conducted by Omni-Group in May 2007).
Additionally, more than 50 percent of the detention bookings at the Justice Center are Colorado residents but NOT Douglas County residents.
“Criminals are coming into this affluent county to commit their crimes,” said Brewer, “and Douglas County residents bear the financial burden.”
Statistics also show that a significant percentage of sales tax revenue comes from outside Douglas County.
“This sales and use tax extension generates revenue from the entire metropolitan area and not just Douglas County residents – which is what a property tax would do,” continued Brewer. “We need to be proactive on a solution and not wait until we are forced to increase property taxes.”
Sheriff Weaver is scheduled to speak to the CPN community about the specifics of the ballot measure on October 1 at Rocky Heights Middle School, and October 17 at the CPN Community Center. Both meetings will begin at 7 p.m. All residents are welcome. Information from these presentations will be available at www.cpnhoa.org.