Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Villaraigosa: Reforms must be included with sales tax increase

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The Los Angeles City Council may decide Tuesday whether to ask voters to increase the city’s sales tax, but it remains to be seen if the proposal will win the support of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. 

In a letter to the council, the mayor listed seven reforms he wants to see along with a tax increase that could help close Los Angeles’ $216 million deficit:

  1. New management structure at the L.A. Zoo
  2. New management model at the Convention Center
  3. The elimination of 209 city workers
  4. Continued hiring of police officers
  5. Consolidation of street maintenance functions
  6. Establishment of economic development entity
  7. Pledge to maintain 5 percent of General Fund dollars in a reserve fund

“If we are going to ask the people of Los Angeles to vote for higher taxes, we must continue to cut spending, spur job creation, protect public safety and maintain fiscal discipline,” the mayor wrote in his letter.

Increasing the city’s sales tax from 8.75% to 9.25% would generate an additional $208 million to $215 million a year, the city administrative officer reports. At the same time, overall sales could decrease by 1.3% as a result of the tax increase.

Council President Herb Wesson backs the tax increase, and he encourages his colleagues to send this proposal to the ballot over other proposals that would increase real estate and parking taxes. Then it will be up to Villaraigosa to sign or veto the measure. He could also let the tax plan move forward without his signature. If the City Council approves it, the tax plan will appear on the March 5, 2013 ballot. 

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