CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) — A meeting held in Camden Tuesday evening provided a forum for residents who opposed a proposed tax increase that, if approved, could bring back some laid off public employees.

Camden Mayor Dana Redd says she’s trying to do the best she can to fill a $5 million gap and $138 million budget.

In the Camden city neighborhood behind Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center, senior citizen Leroy Huff says he is against any property tax increase for Camden residents.

“I cannot afford it,” said Huff. “I’m retired and I’m already paying beyond what I’m able to pay.”

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A spokesmen for Mayor Redd says owners of a home assessed at cities average of about $27,000, will pay $160 more per year in local municipal property taxes.

If the tax increase is passed, it will bring back ten of 67 fire fighters and 47 of the 168 laid off police officers.

“We need protection around here,” said Camden resident Maria Liver who is among those laid off police officers. “It is not safe out here. I will not sit here and lie to you.”

Before the meeting protesters voiced their own opposition.

Congressman Rob Andrews’ office recently announced a $5.1 million Department of Homeland Security grant for Camden to hire fire fighters. I asked

Mayor Dana Redd says the money would likely not affect the tax increase for residents because you have to have a balanced budget to use the $5.1 million.

Reported by Robin Rieger, CBS 3

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