Los Banos voters approve ballot to pay salaries of first responders


Police and fire officials were concerned if Measure K did not pass they would lose some of their staffing. But the salaries of six officers and two firefighters will be covered for the next several years. Supporters of Measure K are celebrating a big victory they believe will help keep their community safe.

"We need good police and fire protection, 150 percents I really am for it," Los Banos resident Bernice Schnorf said.

The measure allows the city to keep using part of a half-cent sales tax to pay the salaries of six police officers and two firefighters if necessary.

"We feel it's a reflection of the support we have locally for police and fire services, so we're honored," Commander Ray Reyna with the Los Banos Police Department said.

The sales tax was initially approved back in 2004 to build new facilities. But in 2009 several police and fire positions were cut, so voters agreed some of the money could be used for salaries and benefits until 2014. Tuesday's vote extends that for seven more years.

"There's days when we are responding and need everyone that is available, so cutting additional personnel, we just can't see that happening," Reyna said.

Opponents of Measure K argued it was time to start using the sales tax for its initial purpose and pay salaries from the general fund. But city leaders worried there might not be enough money to maintain those positions in the future.

"We're just now recovering from the recession, and we want to make sure we don't have to worry about that. This way we know we're going to be able to continue to do what we need to do for our citizens," Los Banos City Council Member Tom Faria said.

Measure K will continue paying the salaries of those eight first responders through the year 2020.

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