By: Sarah Snyder
MIDLAND - It's a hot-button issue in the Tall City this week - a proposed property tax hike. But many Midlanders say the city should find other ways to balance their budget. One of their suggestions? Getting rid of city take-home cars. Midland law enforcement says they're essential to protecting the community.
"It's a waste," Mike Lopez with the Midland TEA Party, said. "It's a definite waste. It's a blatant waste."
Take home city cars - a waste of taxpayer cash or a necessary tool for fighting crime? That's just one of the arguments surfacing after a proposed tax increase. Groups opposing the changes say the city needs to find other ways of shuffling the budget and one of those items - putting take home cars on the chopping block.
"I think that the city vehicles, police or fleet services should be left at work," Lopez said. "Personal vehicles driving back and forth from their houses to the station adds unnecessary miles."
But on the other hand, Midland Police tell NewsWest 9, taking home their squad cars are a huge benefit to Midland neighbors.
"The increased visibility is important because that's a crime deterrent," Midland Police Chief Deputy, J.R. Smith, said. "You see more police cars driving around, parked in neighborhoods so there's some deterrent value there that we think is important."
The TEA party says that's not at all how they feel when a patrol car whizzes past.
"Some people when they drive down the street and see police cars at every intersection think oh, I'm safe," Lopez said. "And I think, police: state. Pay your taxes, sit down, how dare you question us, you should be thanking us for not raising your taxes last year. How dare you question us."
Tall City law enforcement says taking cars homes keeps the city safe at all hours.
"When you have a shooting or a homicide and you're calling detectives out you want them to be able to respond directly to the scene and not spend the extra 30-45 minutes it would take to come down here to get a vehicle to go out there," Chief Smith said.
The TEA party also argues the take-home cars add a huge gasoline and maintenance bill to taxpayer pockets. On the other side, officials say since the vehicles aren't being run 24/7 that means their patrol cars last longer than if they were being run on every shift.
The City Council will approve their new budget on August 23rd.