CAMDEN COUNTY, Mo. — Camden County Sheriff's Deputies will be getting a pay raise.

The ballot measure for increasing the sales tax to provide further funds for the Camden County sheriff’s office passed on Tuesday, Aug. 3. The ballot passed with 62.12% voting yes and 37.88% voting no. The special election saw 2,987 voters cast their ballot, out of 32,673 registered voters in Camden County, a turnout of 9.14%.

The approved proposal means a countywide sales tax increase of one-quarter of one percent (0.25%), or 0.0025. For an example, the new sales tax will add $2.50 to a $1,000 purchase.

According to Camden County Sheriff Tony Helms, the sheriff’s office first plans to use the new revenue to raise the deputy salary from a little under $32,000 (the current salary) to $42,200, or from roughly $15 an hour to $21 an hour. Helms also plans on hiring 10 new deputies in 2022, and buying new equipment for new hires. This first-year spending will come to roughly $2.1 million, according to Helms. Afterwards, the money will go towards raises for correctional officers and dispatch and any additional hiring of officers. Any money not spent for that year goes into a trust to be saved for later expenses.

“We’re just kind of looking to keep a better life for the deputies and I think we’re going to achieve that. Everyone’s pretty excited over here,” Helms said. 

In the language of the ballot, the tax is for the purpose of providing law enforcement for the county. The ballot states that the new funding can be used for “providing funds for the sheriff's department law enforcement operating expenses and capital improvement projects, equipment, additional personnel, personnel expenses, and facilities for sheriff's deputies, dispatch and related emergency services.”

Helms addressed concerns expressed by some in the community that the money would be a "blank check," saying that the money is still being overseen by the county commission as part of the sheriff’s office budget. 

“Everything we purchase will be above-board, people will be able to check on it and see exactly what we’re doing. I hope that we’ll be able to give some updates so people know where the money’s going. I think that’s important,” he told LakeExpo.

Helms expects this new influx of money for the sheriff’s office will improve response times, increase the sheriff's presence in the community, improve the quality of new officers thanks to the raises and new hires, and free-up availability for community resource officers in the community.

But he says he's most excited about the salary raises for current officers. 

“The most wonderful thing in the world is that I can actually pay my people a livable wage,” Helms said. “It's awesome.” 

The sales tax goes into effect January 1st, 2022.