MADERA COUNTY (KFSN) --Supervisors voted for a one-cent hike aimed at improving public safety in the area. In a five to zero vote, the tax hike will now move to the ballot and the decision will be up to the voters.
The state requires more than one person to drive fire engines for the Madera County Fire Department, but one is all they can afford.
"It's very difficult to do our job," said Chief Nancy Koerperich, Madera County Fire Department.
The fire department has six fully staffed stations, the other 11 are all volunteers.
Along with few firefighters, they also have outdated equipment and is in extreme need of help.
"We've had pretty big deficits in our budget over the years and we wanted to be able to provide a better level of service to our constituents," said Brett Frazier, Madera County Supervisor District 1.
The fire chief is hoping this is the answer: a one cent tax hike aimed at helping public safety in Madera County.
The proposal would mean 80 percent of the revenue going toward county fire, and 20 percent going to the Madera County Sheriff's Office.
"If the citizens think highly enough to hire additional bodies, we need to figure out ways to staff, prepare those folks, and give them the equipment they need to do their job," said Jay Varney, Madera County Sheriff.
Both departments said with more help from the tax hike comes better service to the growing county.
"You can imagine-- the population of Madera in the 20's is a lot greater now so there's a much bigger need for us to meet the need of the citizens by correcting our staffing deficiencies," said Koerperich.
The new tax revenue would go solely to the two departments
"This should be a dedicated tax so it'll only go to public safety efforts," said Frazier.
So hopefully more firefighters will operate these fire engines.
The new sales tax would take effect in the unincorporated county areas, meaning Madera and Chowchilla would not pay the extra cent.
If approved, the county would start collecting the new tax in October 2017.