Monterey County

Residents Mail in Opinions on Safety Tax Measure

SALINAS, Calif.-- A mailer in Salinas from the city about a potential tax measure for punlic safety has been making it's way into the mailboxes of residents. The potential safety tax will go to fund police, fire and infrastructure.

The mail comes to Lisa Killion's house the same time everyday. She always expects the usual; bills, junk mail, and magazines. However, a few days ago she got something the mailer for a "Better Salinas" and it caught her eye.

"First of all it's more money out of my pocket I want to know where it's going to go and I want to know if it's going to be affective. Anything that affects my pocket, book, or life or safety is important," said Killion.

As a mother and a student trying to get her bachelor's in criminal justice, it's no wonder a safety tax is important to her.

"We go from zero to $20 million, but there's a lot of ground to cover and how effective is it going to be," said Killion.

The tax would bring $20 million per year and although public safety has been getting the most attention the money would also be spent on infrastructure.

"We have half a billion in infrastructure needs that need fixing. The tax brings in $20 million a year. That's a tiny sliver, plus we need money for police and fire. It's not enough, but at least we can start meeting needs better," said Jyl Lutes, Salinas city council member.

A city wide poll was done last year and the number one concern was better roads, sidewalks and more.

"I hate to keep comparing the two cities, but Monterey has $2000 per capita to spend on its services and needs. Salinas has $500 and that's a $1500 difference. We have more roads, more potholes, more side walks. We have more police and fire needs. The needs of Salinas are much greater, and we have much less to work with," said Lutes.

The mailer cost Salinas nearly $27,000, but putting a measure on a ballot would cost over $200,000.

"If you're willing to pay for it we will put it on the ballot, but it's expensive to put things on the ballot," said Lutes.

"We've been through so many tax increases before and sometimes we do see the results and sometimes we don't," said Killion.

Killion thinks safety is a number one priority, but whether that can be solved with one tax measure is dependent on what people put in the mailbox.

There is a strong opinions to make this tax money solely for police and fire and some others who want the tax money to go into just the general fund to be used for anything. This mailer survey is so the city can determine whether the safety tax will even make it to the ballot.

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