Improving Public Safety for the Citizens of Visalia
What does Measure T fund?
In 2004, the citizens of Visalia approved a 1/4 cent sales tax to increase public safety efforts by enhancing police and fire services in the community. The Measure T plan outlines how the sales tax money would be used to improve public safety. The plan calls for the following to be done in the next 10 years through 2014:
Hire and equip 28 new police officers
Use these officers to open both south and north side precincts
Improve 911 emergency operations by upgrading the emergency dispatch center.
Hire and equip 18 new fire fighters
Utilize those new fire fighters to staff 2 new fire stations in northwest and southeast Visalia.
Improve police and fire operations with the construction of a public safety headquarters to house the expanded staff.
Build a new fire training facility
The legislative authority specifies the funds can only be used for public safety. As a check and balance on this requirement, there will be an independent citizen’s advisory oversight committee and an independent accounting firm will conduct an annual audit.
Why are we doing this?
In the last 10 years, the state has taken more than $17 million from Visalia in property tax and other revenues. In 2003/2004 alone, the state hit to Visalia will be over $3 million. Without these monies, it has become increasingly more difficult to balance our own budget and fund City services.
To resolve this, the City Council has been looking for ways to secure local revenues the state can’t raid. In 2002, the Council and others worked very hard to persuade the state legislature to give Visalia special authorization to hold a sales tax election. The legislature agreed, if the revenues would go to fund police and fire.
According to surveys the city has conducted, Visalians favor a sales tax increase if the money will go to police and fire. Based on this information, the City Council directed staff to develop a plan that would give Visalians more control over their safety. Input more than 1,000 citizen surveys and comments as well as a Citizen’s Task Force were used in developing the Plan.
For More Information