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      Public comments on proposed Amarillo tax hike

      The Amarillo City Commission held the first of two public hearings on the proposed two-cent property tax hike.

      At the current budget rate three new Amarillo Police Officers will be hired, but Mayor Paul Harpole says even if ten were hired, that still leaves the force undermanned by the national average about ten percent.

      APD has no official position on the potential hike, but says they are constantly in need of personnel.

      Sgt. Brent Barbee of APD says, "weâ??re allowed to hire or have 345 people. Weâ??ve got a couple less than that, but weâ??ve got about 13 people in academy right now."

      Commissioner Lilia Escajeda says, "To me it boils down to public safety issues. I think all of us have noticed a spike in Crime in Amarillo."

      Former Potter County Commissioner Joe Kirkwood appeared, arguing against a tax hike, saying it would hurt the poor. "Keep in mind, itâ??s a chain reaction down to people on the bottom."

      Another public hearing is planned next week.