The Central Valley city of Tracy continues to look for new revenues to balance its budget. This week, the city council placed a half-cent sales tax measure on the November ballot. That’s after it put an earlier plan to charge residents for emergency medical calls on hold last month.
Tracy’s budget is in such poor shape that earlier this year, the city briefly tried charging residents when the fire department responded to a medical emergency and administered life support. The city would bill the patient hundreds of dollars. That earned lots of attention from the national media and criticism from Tracy residents.
Ives: “Our constituents didn’t understand the program well enough.”
Mayor Brent Ives says the council put the fee on hold about a month ago, knowing they had an alternative: a half-cent sales tax increase.
Ives: “We’re headed towards this measure anyway so we thought, well, perhaps we could still again offer the premium service of advanced life support on every fire truck and maintain the services we have elsewhere in the city.”
This week, the council voted 4-to-1 to let voters weigh in come November. Mayor Pro Tem Suzanne Tucker was the only council member to vote no. She wants to see more concessions from city employee unions.
Tucker: “Even though there have been some cuts at our city to try to address our structural budget deficit, I believe that there are still areas that need to be cut.”
Tracy faces a nearly five million dollar budget deficit. City officials say raising the sales tax from 8.75 to 9.25 percent would be one way to solve that problem.