Tax increase for police up for council vote Tuesday
MONROE - The City Council will be voting March 12 on whether or not to approve a one-tenths of 1 percent sales tax increase for police services.
The tax proposal would go on the August ballot. It would require a simple majority.
The revenue from the tax increase would go toward filling two police officer positions first, Police Department spokeswoman Debbie Willis said.
Willis said the additional revenue would total about $300,000 a year. The department’s budget in 2008 was $6.2 million. This year it is $5.2 million.
“Any excess money would go to assist in large investigations like homicide and/or replacing equipment in the department,” Willis said.
Police Chief Tim Quenzer originally introduced the tax proposal to the City Council in January. He initially asked for a two-tenths of 1 percent increase. He told the council a sales tax increase would be more appropriate than a property tax increase because about 75 percent of the calls police respond to come from non-homeowners.
The Police Department is funded out of the city’s general fund and has experienced several reductions over the past few years.
“We’re already operating at bare bones and with minimal staffing,” Quenzer said.
The chief said the department started 2013 with the resignation of one of its officers and two more officers have given him notice that they may be leaving.
The department is down six officers since 2008, when the department had 37. The department currently employs 31 officers.
Working with fewer officers, Quenzer said, reduces call response times and puts a financial burden on the department because officers are expensive to replace.
New hire uniforms, first year salary and benefits, training a new officer and putting them through the police academy costs the department about $100,000 per officer, Willis said. After pay increases, officers could make around $90,000 a year with benefits.
“I’m not normally a tax increase kind of guy, but I’d like to go to the public and ask them if this is a priority they would like to support,” Mayor Robert Zimmerman said at the January meeting.
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