LA City Council votes to put sales-tax hike on March ballot


Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is not supporting the half-cent sales tax increase ordinance. But it will still go on the March ballot for voter approval. In a statement, the mayor said: "I will not ask the people of Los Angeles to support higher taxes until the city council makes progress on a set of new reforms."

It would be difficult to find anyone, including most council members, who says they like the proposed half-cent sales tax increase.

But many feel it's needed to help prevent cuts to services like public safety. And that would include more cuts to the police department.

"If I have to take another 100 million out or another 50 million out it will mean many less cops on the street and an increased level of danger to everybody who lives in Los Angeles," said LAPD Chief Charlie Beck.

If approved by voters the sales tax increase would raise as much as $215 million. The city faces a $216 million deficit.

The city council voted 11-4 Tuesday in favor of the tax increase. Jan Perry, Eric Garcetti, Mitch Englander and Dennis Zine voted against the tax increase. Perry and Garcetti are both mayoral candidates.

"We here in Los Angeles have not exhausted all of our options to balance our budget," said Perry.

Former LAPD sergeant Dennis Zine also opposed to the tax increase.

"I support the chief, I respect the chief, but the bottom line is the people of this region cannot afford additional sales tax," said Zine.

But the council majority sees the half-cent sales tax increase as a way to spread the pain. It takes the Los Angeles sales tax to 9.75 percent.

Some opponents say people will simply leave the city when making major purchases.

"You can't avoid paying the car tax, for example, when you purchase an automobile," said City Administrator Miguel Santana. "You pay the tax of where the car is registered, not where you buy it."

So next March, L.A.'s voters will get a chance to say whether they agree with the city council and a half-cent sales tax increase is the only way to save the city from bankruptcy.

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