Modesto’s Mayor is looking to put a half-cent sales tax on a November ballot to help bolster the recession-weary police and fire departments. The temporary tax could raise $13 million per year and potentially restore the thinned roster of sworn personnel in the police and fire departments.

Before the recession, the fire department had about 170 sworn firefighters and they responded to emergency calls on time about 90 percent of situations. Today, they have 131 firefighters and their on time performance had dropped to about 60 percent. Similar reductions is staff can be found at the police department, where there are 20 percent fewer officers than before the recession.

But pushing for the sales tax could be difficult. Just the day before, the Chairman of the Stanislaus Board of Supervisors, Vito Chiesa, called for a temporary transportation tax to upgrade the County’s roads. Voters also recently approved Proposition 30, which increased sales and income taxes statewide.

Because of the targeted nature of the tax, it would face the additional hurdle of winning a supermajority.

Should the tax be approved, the Mayor told the Modesto Bee that it would provide enough funding for an additional 60 police officers, 12 community service officers, and 21 firefighters.

Read the full article at the Modesto Bee.