Downtown residents tonight questioned whether Charleston Mayor Joe Riley is showing a “knee-jerk” reaction to school violence with his emergency $3.9 million tax hike to bring police coverage to all the city’s elementary schools.

Others questioned whether the city is piling on its wish list, taking advantage of a bad situation by pushing for more police and fire stations weeks after the balanced 2013 city budget was passed.

“We just had the state-of-the-city (address) and the mayor said ‘everything’s fine,’ ” one man said before tonight’s forum even started.

The comments came during an informal meeting called by City Councilman Mike Seekings on Riley’s proposed $3.9 million tax increase. It drew about 30 people.

The tax hike would go to hire 19 new police officers to patrol 35 public, private and parochial elementary schools around the city. Additionally, the increase would pay for eight more officers in the King and Market streets entertainment districts, and for two new fire stations, on Daniel Island and in West Ashley.

The increase would add $40 in property taxes on a house valued at $250,000. But other forms of property taxes would increase as well, including for cars and vehicles, officials said.