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Calif. sales tax jumps on April 1

April 1, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Budgets are tight these days, but shoppers face paying even more when the state sales tax jumps 1 percent Wednesday, April 1. That brings the average rate to about 9 percent across California. But the new sales tax tops out at 10.25 percent for Pico Rivera and South Gate.Welcome to Pico Rivera. Soon this will be the home to the highest sales tax in California. This city, along with South Gate, will see the tax jump to 10.25 percent.

"I think it's too much," said shopper Maria Gutierrez. "I think it's too much. Way high. I mean we're barely getting by -- we're counting our pennies as we speak."

And those pennies are adding up. Statewide the sales tax is going up 1 cent. But in Pico Rivera voters approved an extra cent back in November. The city says it's to pay for many services like an elderly center that otherwise would have seen big cuts.

"We were facing a $4.8 million deficit here in the city itself," said Bob Spencer, City of Pico Rivera. "We had no choice but to go out and ask our residents for a sales tax increase. Not a very good time to do it. The economy, the national economy was tanking."

Spencer says the voters approved the extra tax overwhelmingly with 68 percent of the vote, so officials feel residents like what the city is doing.

"Crime rates have dropped in this community in some areas up to 72 percent," said Spencer. "Graffiti is down about 42 percent at the moment, and still declining, and the residents like that."

"It's going to drive the people out of town," said business owner Rose Alvarado.

Rose Alvarado doesn't like the extra tax. Her family owns Palomino's Place, a store that's been around for 20 years. She worries business will drop.

"[Many customers say] they don't want to shop somewhere where it's very high," said Alvarado. "The tax is going up so they say they're going to other towns."

"Go online shopping, go to other cities to do shopping," said local resident Gerardo Soto. "I don't work at Pico Rivera, I work in West L.A., so I could do possible shopping out there."


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