Florence City Council to possibly vote on sales tax increase

The Florence City Council voted Tuesday night to approve a one-cent sales tax increase.

Posted: Jan 15, 2019 3:52 PM
Updated: Jan 15, 2019 6:46 PM

Tuesday night update:

The Florence City Council voted Tuesday night to approve a one-cent sales tax increase.
The council aims to use the money generated by the tax to increase the pay of police and firefighters as well as fund other projects and renovations throughout the city.
The tax is expected to generate $9 million for the city.

People in Florence are about to learn if they'll be paying a sales tax increase. The Florence City Council is expected to vote on the hike after a study showed the city's firefighters and police officers aren't paid enough.

Council members are going over a study that says it will cost about $1.4 million annually to get officer and firefighter pay up to par.

"The minute they leave their homes, their lives are on the line," said Florence Mayor Steve Holt.

Holt said the study, which compared the city's pay of officers and firefighters to cities the same size, proved what they already suspected. This is that firefighters and police officers are underpaid in the city of Florence.

"We need to take care of those officers and firefighters, and I want us to do that," said Holt.

In order to do that, Holt said they could vote on a one cent sales tax increase at Tuesday night's city council meeting. The possible increase could bring in an additional $9 million. Holt said right now, Florence police officers start out at less than $15 an hour. They top out at about $23, depending on their education level. Florence firefighters start out at about $10.50, and max out at about $14. Holt said a sales tax increase is the only way.

"There is no where that I've looked at where we can cut things, so the only option is to raise revenue to take care of it, and the only revenue option we have is sales tax," said Holt.

Michael Angel, who lives in Florence, said firefighters and police officers should be paid more.

"Those people are the people we depend on with fires and emergencies. They are very important people and those people sure don't need to be underpaid," said Angel.

The council will go into a work session at 4 p.m. Tuesday, and the city council meeting will start at 5 p.m.

Holt said the additional money raised from the possible increase would go to other projects and renovations throughout the city. As soon as they vote, we will let you know what they decide.

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