Memphis voters to decide on proposed sales tax increase during October elections

WATCH: Memphis voters to decide on proposed sales tax increase during October elections

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis voters will decide whether or not to increase the sales tax in the city.

The police and fire unions collected thousands of signatures to get the referendum on the ballot this October.

Public safety unions want a half-cent increase in sales tax, and they said it will generate as much as $57 million.

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Union president Thomas Malone said that is why the public safety unions pushed to get the increase on the ballot. He said extra revenue would help restore the pensions and benefit, which were cut in 2014.

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“When they took away the pension and insurance, we started seeing a huge retention problem and everyone was like, ‘That’s not it, that’s not it.’ Well, the proof is in the pudding,” Malone said.

Malone said dozens of firefighters have resigned since 2016, and many of them went to the nearby departments in Germantown and Bartlett.

If approved by voters, Malone told FOX13 they need $37 million to bring back benefits, but he expects the additional sales tax to generate as much as $57 million.

According to Malone, the extra funds would be used for Pre-K or street paving.

However, referendums have not had much success in pervious elections. Early voting starts in September, and Election Day is October 3.