Rising Cost of Police and Fire Protection

December 22, 2008 2:10:46 PM PST
Voters looking for increased police and fire protection in a pair of Valley cities said "yes" to tax increases Tuesday night.Measure "G" got a thumbs up from voters.

It raises Reedley's sales tax rate by a half-cent.

Voters in Sanger also approved a tax increase.

Measure "S" raises the sales tax there by three quarters of a cent to 8-point-7-2-5 percent, making it the highest sales tax rate in Fresno County.

Reedley and Sanger will start generating money from this sales tax increase in July.

But residents won't see additional police officers and fire equipment hit the streets until the end of the year.

Gerald Cisneros enjoys taking his family on walks through the city of Reedley. Cisneros says he's worried the streets may not be safe anymore because of gang activity.

Gerald Cisneros: "Going on walks around town that I see the tagging. In fact I just noticed this fence in my alley has just recently been tagged."

That's why Cisneros voted Tuesday for a ½ cent sales tax to increase funding for public safety. "Measure G" passed with 74% of the town's vote.

Lt. Steve Wright says the Police Department hopes to add 3 more officers by the end of the year to combat the growing concerns over gang activity and address the rise in violent crimes. Police are already dealing with their first homicide of the year.

Lt. Steve Wright: "It's a sign of the times. You know the growth and us having fewer officers in the field to prevent some of this activity."

Voters in Sanger approved a similar measure on Tuesday. Residents there favored three-quarters of a cent sales tax by 70% of the vote.

Police Chief Tom Klose says "Measure S" will create 5 new positions in both police and fire departments.

Chief Tom Klose: "I think people are really tired and want to see something done about the problems."

Problems Caroline Rodriguez says must be addressed. Rodriguez warns too many gang members are moving into the city and says a sax tax increase could be the solution.

Caroline Rodriguez: "I don't mind if it comes out of my pocket. I would rather be able to say that I sleep ok at night knowing that they're out there taking care of me."

The money raised will also provide training equipment for both cities' fire departments.

Sanger hopes to add a new ambulance and fire engine to their fleet.


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