RACINE, Wis. — Racine voters will decide if they are willing to take a tax hike to pay for more police officers and programs to combat crime and build community relations.
"I think it's a good idea, but when they get the money they need to use it wisely," Racine resident Don Phillips said.
"If we don't have the level of staff that the experts and law enforcement think we should have then I think we should be willing to support that," said Michaeline Orvis, another Racine resident.
The referendum comes as the city faces a spike in violence. There have been seven criminal homicides so far this year, which is more than double this time last year.
The proposal is to raise the tax levy by $2 million in 2023, and an additional $150,000 to cover the cost of living expenses each following year. To get there, property taxes would increase by more than 3.5%.
The change would cover several things, including hiring 11 police officers.
"It'd be more general, but you have more opportunity, more officers to either join some of the task force we get or sign up for some of the grants that we have," said Racine's Assistant Chief of Police Alex Ramirez.
Ramirez said funds would also go toward expanding multiple programs.
"We can get more beach patrol. We can get more bike patrol, we can provide extra attention to some of the areas that need it, and we can work more on quality of life issues on a regular basis," Ramirez said.
He added that includes working with at-risk youth.
Becky Crowley lives next door in Kenosha, but works in Racine and spends a lot of time here.
"I think any kind of spending that's going to go towards the police department is really going to be beneficial if we're providing training for them to really help kind of those marginalized groups or areas of the population that may be currently underserved," Crowley said.
The fall primary is Aug. 9.