Sales Tax Increase to Fund Chula Vista First Responders - NBC 7 San Diego

Sales Tax Increase to Fund Chula Vista First Responders



    Chula Vista City Council Votes to Increase Sales Tax

    NBC 7's Omari Fleming reports on a potential tax hike to fund the staffing needs for the Chula Vista police and fire departments.

    (Published Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017)

    The cost of public safety could soon be on the rise in Chula Vista.

    Tuesday night the Chula Vista City Council voted in favor of putting a half-cent sales tax increase on the ballot in June or November of 2018.

    The move would raise the tax rate to 8.75 percent and raise an estimated $16 million dollars per year that would help increase frist-responder staffing that has been severely lacking since 2007.

    "Chula Vista is a safe community, let me make sure everyone understands that," said Chula Vista Police Chief Roxana Kennedy. "So it's not a matter of people are in desperate need. It comes to customer service and the ability to  respond in a reasonable amount of time to assist people." 

    CVPD officials said they have not met the national average response time of six minutes for five years.

    During a presentation, Chula Vista Fire Department officials said some of stations struggle to meet their seven minute average.

    The tax increase would mean about 43 new CVPD employees, which is still less than the 63 the department said it critically needs to equal other cities in San Diego County.

    The CVFD would get 36 people, though still not the 54 needed to meet its critical need.

    Though it is not all the employees the fire department would like to have, Chula Vista Fire Chief Jim Geering said the additional employees would help keep people safer.

    “It’s going to put a better concentration of units in our city and give us 4.0 staffing where we can arrive on scene of fire and extinguish it a lot faster,” he said.

    Laura Terry-Glimme said seconds matter, and she supports a hotel tax for staffing increases after her son and firefighters saved her life last year during a heart issue.

    “I’m a walking miracle thanks first and foremost to God, and my son, and first responders of Chula Vista," said Terry-Glimme.

    Though the sales tax would raise money for staffing, the revenue generated does not fund the department’s critical need compliment for staffing. To alleviate the issue, Councilwoman Patricia Aguilar suggested a parcel tax to raise the extra money.

    Mayor Mary Casillas Salas and other council members said they are not in favor of that.

    “I hope it’s not necessary to do that," Salas said. "There is only so much our public can bear.”

    Salas said she would prefer considering a hotel tax and seeing how much tax revenue new businesses bring in.