An amendment allowing money from a half-cent sales tax measure to be used for salaries of emergency services personnel passed Tuesday night.
Measure A was approved by voters with 2,215 votes (82.2 percent) in favor and 478 (17. 7 percent) opposed, with 100 percent of the precincts reporting.
The amendment will allow the city to temporarily use facilities funding from the town's Measure P sales tax (approved in 2004) for salaries of currently employed firefighters and police officers. The measure has a five-year sunset clause and does not raise taxes.
"I'm really happy and excited it passed," Mayor Tommy Jones said. "We really needed this to pass. This gives us another way to get through these difficult times."
Declining property and sales tax revenues forced a round of city layoffs in January. Many have feared that more cuts, specifically in the fire and police departments, would have been necessary if Measure A had failed.
The fire department relies largely on volunteers, but has recently dropped from 18 to 16 paid employees capable of fighting fires.
Without Measure A the department may have been forced to slash another position and a half. The city is projecting a 15 percent decline in next year's property tax revenue.
Tuesday night Fire Chief Chet Guintini said he was confident the passage of Measure A will avoid fire department layoffs.
"The amount of losses in property taxes can be covered by our building funds," Guintini said.
Emergency services now has $1.7 million it can use for salaries thanks to the outcome of the vote. The money was previously set aside for a new police station and fire training tower.
Last year the Los Baños Police Department was authorized to employ 48 officers. Because of the economy that number has since dropped to 38.
Cmdr. Gary Brizzee said he's also pleased at the result of the election.
"There were a lot of local people that put in their time and money to see this pass," Brizzee said, explaining why he believed the measure succeeded. "I think it was a reasonable ballot measure that did not raise taxes and was for public service."