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Firefighters Used To Promote Sales Tax

Audio

Aired 8/9/10

Supporters of a half-cent sales tax hike in San Diego are focusing on the public safety benefits a tax increase could bring. Often firefighters are used to symbolize what's at stake. A previous issue also used firefighters to galvanize voters.

— Supporters of a half-cent sales tax hike in San Diego are focusing on the public safety benefits a tax increase could bring. Often firefighters are used to symbolize what's at stake. A previous issue also used firefighters to galvanize voters.

Supporters of a proposed half-cent sales tax increase in San Diego say it will help the city restore cuts to fire and police services. But critics say the money would go toward the city's pension payments.
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Above: Supporters of a proposed half-cent sales tax increase in San Diego say it will help the city restore cuts to fire and police services. But critics say the money would go toward the city's pension payments.

In 1993 state-wide proposition 172 established a half-cent sales tax dedicated to public safety in California. In San Diego County the money is used primarily for the Sheriff's Department and District Attorney's Office. That rankles some firefighters who campaigned for the tax.

But San Diego Fire Fighters Union President Frank De Clercq said he's not concerned the department will be cut out if the city sales tax is raised. He said San Diego already commissioned a study to see where additional stations are needed.

"I think they'll follow the will of the people," he said. "They know we need these stations to get to your home within five minutes. We're only doing that half the time now and we want to do better."

If approved, the sales tax would generate more than $100 million a year for San Diego. The money would go into the city's general fund and could not be earmarked for any specific purpose.

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