CHULA VISTA (NEWS 8) - A measure calling for a half-cent sales tax increase will appear on Chula Vista's June ballot. If passed by voters, the money would go directly to the police and fire departments.

If voters choose to pass this tax increase, the city of Chula Vista will have the highest sales tax rate in the county tied with Del Mar and National City.

Tuesday night, the council unanimously passed a motion to put a half-cent sales tax increase on the June ballot. 

Both departments have been short-staffed since the recession, resulting in fewer arrests, longer response times and more traffic injuries, that’s according to a 2017 report from the city.

Council members, including a former firefighter and a former police officer, expect the half-cent sales tax increase to generate $16 million a year. They intend to use the funds to hire more than 20 sworn police officers, 40 civilian employees, and 30 fire personnel over the next four years.

With that said, the money from the tax increase will not be tied to public safety. Instead, it will go into the general fund, which can technically be used for a variety of programs. As a result of that, the council introduced accountability measures like an intended spending plan and an oversight committee to make sure the funds are spent on public safety, similar to last year's measure p tax increase.

Since 2008, the city's population grew by 25 percent while the police force shrunk by 12 percent. The police department now has the lowest police officer to residents ratio in the county.