CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – How much are you willing to pay for your safety? More money could soon be coming out of your pockets to fund police and fire departments in the City of Charleston.

City officials are discussing a potential tax increased to recover from an $18 million budget shortfall, but time is running out for council to make a decision.

The City of Charleston’s budget must be balanced by the end of the year, and your tax dollars may help dig the city out of an $18 million hole, which was caused in part by the coronavirus pandemic.

Right now, Charleston city leaders are scrambling to reach a decision between raising taxes, cutting jobs, or a combination of the two.

Their saving grace could be money coming from Washington – CARES Act funding – but that decision is still in limbo.

Breaking down the potential tax increase, the city is planning to keep half of the local option sales tax money – which is normally given back to residents for a year – and raising that tax by three mills.

According to the city, this increase could prevent cutting jobs from the city’s core services like police, fire, sanitation, and recreation services.

“What we’re voting on tonight just keeps our options open and keeps a tool in the toolbox and helps us to successfully balance the budget before the end of the year,” said Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg.

City leaders say they will continue evaluating the budget next year and make necessary changes.

The first reading of the budget it expected during Tuesday’s city council meeting.