While the City staff is preparing a cost-cutting budget; others are looking to boost revenues in order to add balance to the City’s finances. A March 5 election has been scheduled to decide the fate of a half-cent sales tax.

Last year, Atwater faced a dire financial situation and turned to deep cuts and layoffs to avoid a potential bankruptcy. Having already overcome that $4 million deficit, further cuts could be exceptionally painful. At least one former member of the City’s police force thinks that additional cuts could put public safety at risk.

Bob Calaway, the City’s former police chief, is advocating for the half-cent sales tax that could raise as much as $1 million per year. That money would be specifically targeted to public safety, meaning it requires a two-thirds majority to approve it.

Also in support of the tax is the City’s mayor, who points out that as a sales tax, anyone from outside the city who shops at local businesses will help fund public safety improvements.

The fire department is contracted with CDF, but the City is responsible for paying for their equipment and fire stations.

Read the full article at the Merced Sun Star.