Fremont County Sheriff James Beiker wants to be as transparent as possible to reinforce why question 1A on the November ballot is vital for his department and for the safety of the community. I sat down with him to talk about the ballot initiative.
Sheriff Beiker says the cameras aren't working and the doors are sometimes unexpectly opening on their own in the detention facility, "Some of them have been worked on or scabbed together. Some have never been replaced." Two point eight million dollars is expected to be raised every year for ten years by the sales tax hike in Fremont County. The tax hike sunsets in the year 2023. It's one cent per one hundred dollars that would be channeled to help the Sheriff's Office with its laundry list of needs.
One key item on the list is adding staff that had to be reduced over the years because there wasn't enough money in the budget to keep them. Sheriff Beiker tells me, "We've cut so deep operationally and so many positions that sadly the nearly three million in estimated sales tax money every year will go to restore many of the cuts over the years." 16 positions will be re-filled and four more staffers including a detective will be hired on to the Sheriff's Office. Sheriff Beiker says he never wants to have this conversation with a parent because there aren't enough staffers, "Having a conversation with the parents of a victim of child sexual assault and saying I can't get to your case right now because of the lack of staffing levels, but we'll get to it."
I also asked Fremont County Commissioner Debbie Bell if the money raised from this proposed sales tax hike could funnel into another line item in the Fremont County budget. She assured me all the money raised from Question 1A will go to where it's intended, the Sheriff's Office.