With raging inflation, an economy in recession, and people seeing their nest eggs plundered, Washington County Executive Josh Shoemann is campaigning to raise property taxes. And he thinks you’re stupid enough to believe that he can raise taxes and you got a tax decrease. When I supported moving Washington County to an Executive structure, I really didn’t think that the first one would try to build his political resume on tax increases.
Schoemann described increasing the sheriff’s office’s share of the county tax levy from $15.2 million, 43.7 percent, when he took office to $20 million, 55 percent, today, a 33 percent increase.
He then spoke of the $3.6 million Anti-Crime Plan referendum, which will appear on the Nov. 8 general election ballot.
“[The plan] will provide more law enforcement resources to our schools; more mental health resources in times of crisis and with non-acute cases out of the justice system; more inter-county and cross-county drug task force engagement; more mental health support and additional resources to combat substance use in our jail; and improved emergency and crises response and management,” said Schoemann.
The referendum would see an increase of 30-and-ahalf staff positions across multiple departments in the sheriff’s office, including teaming up three social workers and three sheriff’s deputies to address mental health crisis calls.
The referendum, if passed by county residents, will raise the tax levy 9.89 percent, but there will still be an estimated nine cent per $1,000 of assessed value decrease in the county tax rate, at least.
“Whether the referendum is adopted or not, your county portion of the property tax rate will likely go down, it’s just a matter of how much. … This referendum is not about whether we want a new shiny building or field. It is about whether we need a proactive response to the crime plague seeping across our border,” said Schoemann. “So, the question our community must decide is this: What do we hate more, growing government or growing crime?”
No, this is not a binary question. Government can stay the same size and reallocate budget to priorities like fighting crime. The threat that the county will be unable to grapple with crime without a tax increase is an admission of failed governance.