Oct 28, 2009 9:27 PM by Abby Lane

Decision 2009: Fremont County sales tax ballot issue

The Fremont County Sheriff's Office is used to responding to emergencies but right now, they say they have one themselves.

"I just have to let our folks know that the problem hasn't gone away," said Sheriff James Beiker. 

He says his office needs money.  They are down more than 11 positions, have cut services like animal control and officers are no longer responding to misdemeanor crimes as they're happening.  "I've cut many services and impacted the way we've done business for the sheriff's office here," he said.

Fremont county voters are deciding on a half cent sales tax increase, upping it from 1.5 to 2%.  Food and utilities won't be affected. On the ballot, it's question 1A. If passed, it's expected to bring in $1.5 million a year for state-mandated services provided by the sheriff's office.

Beiker knows it's a tough time to ask for this but feels he has no choice.  "We're getting to the point that we are not able to meet those mandates and that would be a violation of law so as your sheriff here in Fremont county, I'm required to provide these things. "

"We need to look at these unfunded mandates and where do they come from," asked Gary Mohr, a local doctor who's practiced in Fremont county for 27 years.  Mohr knows the sheriff's in a tough spot but doesn't think a tax increase is the answer.  "If the taxpayers hold the line at the local level and the local officials can't meet those unfunded mandates then the larger governments that are spending money on unnecessary things will have to dedicate funds to fulfilling those unfunded mandates," he said.

Voters have until Nov 3 to turn in their ballots in Fremont County.


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