Extra tax could pay for more police officers, firefighters in Grass Valley | TheUnion.com

Extra tax could pay for more police officers, firefighters in Grass Valley

A group of Grass Valley residents is pushing for a sales tax increase that, if approved by voters in June, would fund road maintenance, improvements to city parks, and extra police and fire personnel.

In order for their initiative to appear on the ballot, the group needs to collect at least 190 signatures from Grass Valley residents by Wednesday, according to City Clerk Kristi Bashor.

So far, they've collected about 250, Daniel Swartzendruber, who is leading the movement, said Wednesday. But they're looking for more to ensure that enough qualified signatures — from registered residents — are submitted to the city, he said.

Measure "N," approved by voters in 2012, increased Grass Valley's sales tax rate by a half-cent. The extra revenue has paid for an additional five employees each for the fire and police departments and has funded road improvement projects. The measure is set to expire in 2023.

According to Swartzendruber, the measure has been a success. But the city needs more.

The new voter initiative would repeal Measure N and replace it with a one-cent sales tax increase that has no expiration date.

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In addition to what Measure N provides, the extra half-cent would pay for four more employees each for the police and fire departments, Swartzendruber said. It would continue to fund road improvements and would also pay for improvements to city parks.

Swartzendruber said Grass Valley's parks are currently "unsafe and unusable."

The city, Swartzendruber said, faces a "public safety emergency" and needs to increase its police services to combat drugs, vagrancy and crime. Grass Valley also needs additional fire personnel, he said, to protect the community from fire danger and other safety concerns.

"The city really needs that extra kick to get us to a better place than we are today," he said.

For more information about the proposal, or to add a signature, email Swartzendruber at daniel@tru-linebuilders.com.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Pera, email mpera@theunion.com or call 530-477-4231.