Gladstone voters are being asked today to approve a new quarter-cent sales tax to add police officers and upgrade the city’s aging emergency radio system.
City and law enforcement officials have said that in recent years, violent crimes have increased and response time to emergency calls has jumped.
The city sales tax, which would have no sunset requirement, would generate roughly $700,000 annually, officials said. The measure would need a simple majority for approval. Collection of the new sales tax would begin Oct. 1.
Proceeds from the sales tax would be used to hire six policeofficers: one detective, four officers for uniformed patrol and one for community policing. The city now has 42 sworn officers.
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Violent crimes, such as homicide, rape, robbery and felony assault, increased 69 percent from 2002 to 2009, Gladstone officials have said.
A new emergency system would cost Gladstone $1.7 million. Proceeds from the sales tax fund would pay for general maintenance.
The department’s 20-year-old radio system prevents Gladstone police from communicating with surrounding police and law enforcement agencies. One example: When a tornado hit the Northland three years ago, Gladstone and Kansas City police had trouble communicating. Telephone system was knocked out and the cell phone system was overloaded.
The new emergency radio system would eventually be linked with Kansas City’s, they said.
If approved, the measure would raise the general sales tax rate in Gladstone from 7.35 percent to 7.60 percent, including state and county sales taxes.