A new poll commissioned by Chula Vista officials shows that voters would support a tax increase to keep fire and police off the chopping block.
Cities throughout San Diego County are struggling to balance budgets without making major cuts to essential services.
In three months, Chula Vista residents will vote whether to increase the sales tax in the city by 1 percent. It's an effort aimed at helping fix the city's budget crisis. A representative for the city said the poll shows that the majority of voters are in favor of the tax.
The city is facing a $4 million budget shortfall. Next year, it's trending upward of $20 million, and that could mean serious cuts to the police department, which stands to lose nearly two dozen officers, K-9 units and two drug and gang enforcement units.
"We're at a point of to-the-bone, and we've got a knife scraping against us, and I don't know where else the cuts can come," Buddy Magor, president of the Chula Vista Police Officers Association said.
Chula Vista resident Sheryl Vazquez said she’s starting to notice city services disappearing.
"You know what, I don't see too many police officers around anymore," Vazquez said, said. "Not like before."
Vazquez , however, said she was not ready to pay higher taxes.
"I think we pay too much in taxes already for everything," Vazquez said.
The sales tax increase would raise the rate one penny on every dollar. Some residents said it’s a small price to pay to keep safety and emergency personnel around.
"If it's going to provide more jobs for the fire department and police just do it -- it's only a cent," said Larry Wells.
Some residents said the tax hike hurts businesses and low income families already struggling with the cost of living. Chula Vista Deputy Mayor John McCann has proposed cost-saving alternatives like selling city land. Voters will decide whether to approve the sales tax increase in a May 5 mail-ballot election.