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Police: Loss of Glendale sales tax risks officers’ jobs

PHOENIX — If voters fail to extend the sales-tax boost that was approved by the Glendale City Council over the summer, patrol officers will lose their jobs, said Justin Harris of the Glendale Law Enforcement Association.

“I know for sure there will be a reduction in our department,’ he said. “This would be the first actual layoff of police officers in the state of Arizona if
it happens.”

The council boosted the sales tax from 2.2 percent to 2.9 percent this past summer, but voters will have the ultimate say at the ballot box and could reverse that.

Harris believes initially 20 patrol officers and about 40 support staff in the department could lose their jobs, possibly by the end of the year. About 20 to 25 other officers could be pulled off the street to fill the support duties.

“Right now, it’s a state of panic,” he said. “Police officers fear they could lose their brothers and sisters on the streets which could potentially put them at greater risk.”

According to some critics, the sales-tax boost was merely a means to keep the Phoenix Coyotes in the Valley and will hurt businesses as customers shop where tax rates are lower.

“This has nothing to do with hockey,” said Harris. “Our officers come in day after day and the last thing they need to hear is that they’ll be losing their jobs because the sales-tax hike of seven-tenths of one percent sales tax will burden the businesses.

“My question is, are you less likely to come to Glendale because you don’t want to pay that extra tax to help support public safety or are you less likely to come here because the city is filled with crime and blight?”

Harris said Glendale is third in the Valley in violent crime and tops in car theft.

Harris said Arizona’s implementation of a one-cent sales tax three years ago saved dozens of DPS officers from losing their jobs.