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Police, Fire Departments Prepare for Public Safety Tax Funds

January 1st brought a change for taxpayers in St. Joseph that will impact public safety.
(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) January 1st brought a change for taxpayers in St. Joseph that will impact public safety. The measure, approved last August, will provide more than $1.4 million for safety services in the city.

"The public safety tax is important to the community as a whole because of the additional service levels that it helps provide to the community," City Manager Bruce Woody said.

The police department will be seeing a lot of the money.

"There have been a lot of pressing needs for a number of years," Police Chief Chris Connally said.

The extra funding will help the police department hire 20 new officers, which he hopes will speed up response times and help them be proactive instead of reactive in stopping crime.

"The bottom line is we want to meet and exceed the expectations of our citizens," Connally said.

The police department is still in the early stages of hiring more officers. The fiscal year does not start until July, meaning changes will not happen until then.

"We're actually still trying to get ourselves up to full staffing," Connally said.

And it's not just the police department that is benefiting from the public safety tax. The St. Joseph fire department is planning to buy some extra equipment, among other things with the extra funding.

Among the changes will be new weight rooms in all new firehouses.

"We're here 24 hours at a time," Fire Captain Travis Owens said. "It's our home away from home."

They also need to build taller garages for bigger trucks.

One of the biggest improvements will be increased pay for new firefighters, which will help the department retain personnel.

"A lot of them are from St. Joe. They want to stay here in St. Joe," Owens said. "Before the money wasn't enough to support their families."
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