Los Angeles News

LA County tax increase one step closer to March ballot

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

From police officers to firefighters, parks and libraries, city leaders say they can cut no more. The Los Angeles City Council on Monday moved a step closer to putting a tax increase to voters on a March ballot, while recognizing it is a tough pill for voters to swallow.

Four different measures are under debate. The one with the most support is an increase in the sales tax.

Currently at 8.75 percent, the proposal would raise it a half penny per dollar, to 9.25 percent -- the second highest rate in the state, yet equal to some other cities in Los Angeles County.

It would draw a projected $215 million more annually. Supporters say those funds would help hold the line against further layoffs.

"We have to do the best we can do the best we can deliver the services that Angelenos want, need and expect," said Council President Herb Wesson. "And I think that we've proven to them by all of the cost cutting measures that we have done, that we are serious."

But opponents say enough already.

"I was talking to a restaurant owner this morning, he has a restaurant in my district, he said sales are way down, and when sales are down he says the waiters aren't working, the cooks aren't working, the sales tax isn't there, it's a very tough economic situation that we are facing in this region," said councilmember Dennis Zine.

Taxpayers are split.

"I think that it affects most families and we have two kids and it's very expensive already," said Ed Wu.

But Maurice Anderson thinks the extra revenue would be beneficial.

"Get more officers, more safety less gang problems, less violence," he said.

Angelenos aren't the only ones debating. Thirty-six other jurisdictions in the state will vote on similar measures next week.

The City Council will decide in a couple of weeks whether to place the measure on the March ballot. Before then, they will hear from economists how a tax hike might impact Los Angeles businesses.

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