As election day draws near, Delta County residents are being asked to support a sales tax increase.

Measure 1A, the Back the Badge Public Safety Sales Tax Initiative, is asking for a $.008 county-wide sales tax on every $1 of goods sold in Delta County. That translates to an 80 cent tax increase on every $100 spent. The tax would apply to county residents and non-residents alike.

According to the Back to the Badge promotional flier, the tax increase is needed because "criminal activity including illegal drug use has exploded in Delta County" and staffing levels for POST Certified Peace officers in agencies across the county "has remained stagnant for years" and is behind the demand and industry standards.

The flier says the additional revenue would be used to:

* Improve response times from police departments and the sheriff's office
* Add police officers and sheriff's deputies
* Increase traffic enforcement in school zones, business districts, and neighborhoods
* Upgrade facilities, purchase new equipment and help with crime investigations
* Add emergency dispatchers to answer 911 calls

If Delta County voters approve the initiative, the expected revenue is $2.7 million per year for the next 10 years. Back the Badge says 52% of the funds would go to the Delta County Sheriff's Office, 31% to Delta Police, 7% to Cedaredge Police, 6% to Paonia Police, and 4% to the Hotchkiss Marshall.

Keeping law and order in our communities is certainly a costly proposition, and from what I hear, money doesn't grow on trees. Only time will tell if Delta County residents will respond favorably to a tax increase to provide additional funding for local law enforcement agencies. The main thing is to be an informed voter and be sure and cast your vote.

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