North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

Sales tax would fund new Marysville Jail

 

Christopher Andersson

Marysville Police Commander Mark Thomas talks to locals at the Marysville Library on July 18 about the upcoming sales tax measure that would provide the city with new police station and jail facility.

Marysville voters will decide on a 0.1 percent sales tax to fund a new police station and jail on the upcoming August 7 primary ballot.

City officials met with the public at information sessions this July, including at the Marysville Library on July 18.

The last time the Marysville public voted for funding a public jail/police station was 1986.

At that time the police had 24 full-time employees and the city had a population of 8,000. Now the department has 100 full-time employees and the city has a population of 67,000.

Although there have been some renovations over the years, "they're trying to fit four times as many people in about the same amount of space," said Connie Mennie, communications administration with the City of Marysville.

"There's a lot of make-due things that the department has been doing for a few years," said Mennie, such as former closets becoming offices.

"We've done what we think we can do," said Commander Mark Thomas with the Marysville Police Department.

"The police department is going to grow within the next few years, but we don't know where we're going to put these people," he said.

The department has also been putting more officers off-site from the station, but Thomas said that comes at the cost of communications and coordination.

The city jail helps with Marysville's crime-fighting strategy, said Thomas, as officers are less likely to release offenders with a ticket and court date.

Not many local jurisdictions have that, he said.

Those suspected of crimes like theft, assaults and DUI can be held at the jail, said Thomas, but those suspected of a felony still have to go to the county jail.

A local jail also helps patrol officers stay on the road, said Thomas.

"I can drop them off and within 15 minutes can be back on the road doing patrol work," he said.

A new jail could be designed more efficiently, said Thomas.

"When we have a problem child who doesn't get along with others ... we have to put him in a cell by himself and now we have five empty beds there," he said. A new jail could put two beds to a cell instead.

The city currently plans for the new police station/jail building to cost around $23 million.

The 0.1 percent increase would pay for 70 percent of a 30-year bond that would pay for the police station and jail, said Mennie, and the city would pay for the remaining 30 percent out of their general fund.

The tax would not expire after those 30 years.

"After 30 years some future city council would need to determine what criminal justice purpose it would need to be used for," said Mennie. "By state law it is required to be used for criminal justice purposes," she added, so it could not be used for things like parks or streets.

The City of Marysville's sales tax would raise from 9.1 percent to 9.2 percent.

"That is still in the medium to lower end to what other districts are currently paying," said Thomas.

The highest sales tax in the county are in Lynnwood, Bothell and Mukilteo who all have 10.4 percent sales tax.

The other cities higher than Marysville currently are Everett, Edmonds and Monroe.

There are also a few exceptions to the sales tax. It would not apply to groceries, prescription medication and purchasing/leasing vehicles.

The new police station and jail could be part of a bigger plan for a civic campus that would be behind Comeford Park.

"The biggest need right now is for the police station and jail, but if this goes forward it kind of sets in motion the possibility of realizing a civic campus," said Mennie.

"The city is pretty confident that for about the same amount of money that we currently spend to rent and maintain the current buildings - city hall, municipal court, public works - we can come together and have essentially the same payments on newer buildings that are more energy efficient and customer friendly," said Mennie.

The city plans to keep Comeford Park largely the same, except for the possibility of building a new community center.

 

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