ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Police and fire officials are pushing for passage of a measure on next month’s ballot in the city of St. Louis.

Proposition P is a half-cent sales tax boost that is expected to raise $20 million per year.

Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson says the measure is desperately needed to raise salaries in his department.

“We have the second largest fire department in the state behind Kansas City, and we’re probably one of the lower paid fire departments in the state,” he says.

He says that while the national average salary is $52,000, his firefighters top out at just over $60,000 a year.

Meanwhile, St. Louis County government in-fighting could stop county police raises in their tracks.

Council chair Sam Page is accused of holding up police raises.

Page says he’s worried about the police retirement fund getting stressed by a 30 percent rise in officer pay, but County Executive Steve Stenger says in May he sent a possible solution for the pension issue.

This year, county voters approved Prop P after a campaign that promised more public safety.

Regardless of who scores political points on this skirmish, county Police Chief Jon Belmar told KMOX this summer that officers haven’t had a raise in years.

“We realized an attrition rate that was unacceptable, and I think part of Prop P really needs to address the pay in the police department,” Belmar said.

If you remember the controversy over municipalities thinking they could spend Prop P monies on other things besides police, Stenger has signed an accountability bill, but it only applies to the county and not to those municipalities.

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