By Angela Monroe. CREATED Jan 31, 2014
DESERT HOT SPRINGS -- The city of Desert Hot Springs is in the midst of a financial crisis they've made drastic cuts, including to their police department.
Now city council is considering asking voters to increase a vacant land tax to help fund public safety.
The city of Desert Hot Springs is making deep cuts to avoid bankruptcy.
"The crisis the city's having is pretty bad from what I understand," said Desert Hot Springs resident, Tom Clark.
With two murders in the city just this week, some residents worry about public safety especially if officers are leaving.
"It would probably get worse, because the officers that are here sort of know the area, they know the people," said Clark.
Several weeks ago employees for the city, including police, had their salaries chopped drastically.
"Some were cut as high as 25, 30, 35 percent and one officer was cut even more than that," said Chief Dan Bressler with the Desert Hot Springs Police Department.
Chief Bressler says some officers may decide to leave because of that, but the city will keep the force at 25 sworn officers for a city of 27,000 people.
"We are authorized 34 positions and when the budget cuts came we had already cut down 5 of those positions to 29, now we're cutting down even further for additional salary savings," said Chief Bressler.
So the city may go to voters asking them to increase taxes on vacant land.
It would designate more money specifically to public safety.
"We could hire more people, we could salaries caught back up, we could get the K9 officer we need, get a motor officer, we could do certain things that right now we can't do," said Chief Bressler.
It's up to residents if it's worth the investment.
"I would vote yes on that just to help out the public safety, I think the officers here do a good job, and I'd like to see them stay," said Clark.
Based on the city council's decision, voters may have their say come June.