As Concern Over Crime Rises, San Jose City Council Weighs Tax Hike Options

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Increasing concerns that crime is on the rise across San Jose are at the center of a fight over a tax hike measure set to appear on the November ballot. Damian Trujillo reports. (Published Monday, Aug 4, 2014)

    Increasing concerns that crime is on the rise across San Jose are at the center of a fight over a tax hike measure set to appear on the November ballot.

    The fight is over what type of tax hike measure the San Jose City Council should put before voters: a special tax to hire more police and firefighters or a general tax to also fix roads and other services.

    Polls show San Jose voters would approve some form of tax hike to increase city revenue.

    One San Jose resident who spoke with NBC Bay Area said he supports a tax hike to hire more police officers. Surveillance cameras outside Ryan Leiby’s Varden Avenue home captured a suspected burglar in action on Sunday, using a rock to break in to Leiby’s house.

    “We have locked gates, video cameras, alarm and that didn’t deter him,” Leiby said.

    Police are still looking for the suspect, who took off with watches and jewelry.

    Leiby said the city needs more cops.

    “Maybe the voters will get sick of this and vote to raise some taxes,” Leiby said.

    But the police union is against one of the leading proposals, a special tax that’s exclusive for police and fire.

    “This is not a plan to restore public safety,” the San Jose Police Officers' Association’s James Gonzales said. "The dollars are tied to Measure B. We will not be supporting anything that truly doesn’t put officers on the streets, and not what this measure does.”

    Gonzales said, if officers negotiate improvements to Measure B, the city's pension reform law, that special tax hike will die.

    Another proposal would ask voters to approve a general sales tax. That revenue could be used to bolster any city service, not just public safety.

    For burglary victim Leiby, he said he doesn’t care about the politics; all he wants is more officers in the neighborhoods.