Deputies to get pink slips as tax hike plan fails

Deputies to get pink slips as tax hike plan fails
SEATTLE -- Dozens of deputies and court workers in the King County criminal justice system will be getting pink slips in the next few weeks after the county council voted against putting a proposal to raise the property tax on the August ballot.

The Tuesday vote was 5-4 along party lines in favor of the proposal, but the measure needed a super-majority of six votes to pass, which means there will be no funding vote of any kind on the August ballot.

"We've got citizens in King County who will be in a world of hurt," King County Sheriff Sue Rahr said.

The proposed tax would have come out to about $34 more a year for an owner of a $400,000 home in King County. The vote comes on the heels of a similar rejection by the council Monday that would have floated to voters a 0.2 percent raise in the sales tax.

Without either source of funding, the county faces severe cuts in the sheriff's office, prosecutors office, district court supervision programs, and domestic violence and sexual assault victim assistance programs.

Sheriff Sue Rahr also says it would mean the end of drug and small crime investigations in rural parts of the county, and no more school resource officers.

John Urquhart with the King County Sheriff's Office says his department expects to lay off 79 deputies, although that number could fluctuate depending on attrition and other vacancies. Other county officials said they expect another 80 court employees will be getting pink slips as they can't wait to see if any emergency funding can be found.

"Now we are to the point of what is left basically... is between 75 and 78 percent criminal justice services -- those services that keep people safe," said King County Council member Julia Patterson.

Many say they are upset that the council members were voted in as a non-partisan council, yet partisan politics definitely played out in the vote.