The Los Angeles Police Department could see its ranks reduced by as many as 500 police officers if a proposed sales tax increase fails, according to a report released Thursday by the city’s top budget official.
Measure A on the March 5 ballot asks voters to increase the city of Los Angeles’ sales tax by a half-cent. That would bring the city’s sales tax to 9.5 percent.
City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana is scheduled to discuss his findings later this afternoon.
The city's 2013-14 fiscal year is expected to begin on July 1 with a $216 million deficit. That shortfall could be closed with the funds from the proposed tax increase.
Santana wrote in his report: “While we are starting to see the 'light of the end of the tunnel,' the security provided by this optimistic picture is still very fragile and not an accurate reflection of the structural problems that the city is facing.”
Approval of Measure A would give city leaders some breathing room, Santana said.
“Should the sales tax measure not pass, the work of the next mayor and council becomes much more difficult. While continuing forward with reforms, the city’s policy makers will need to proceed with further reductions in core services to simply stay in balance,” Santana wrote.
Without the new tax revenue, the LAPD would stop hiring new officers. Due to attrition, that would reduce ranks by 300 cops. Another 200 police officers could face layoffs.
Other issues that could upend the city’s budget include ongoing litigation and police overtime. LAPD’s accrued overtime for police officers is now at 2.3 million hours, with a value of $85 million.
Candidates running for mayor oppose the tax increase. Councilman Eric Garcetti was asked about the tax at Wednesday night’s KPCC debate. He believes the city has to pursue other avenues before going to voters.
“First and foremost, we have to grow our economy," Garcetti said. "We have to make sure we’re a business friendly city. Get rid of our gross receipts tax and bring jobs and businesses back here.”
Earlier this week, mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel announced a proposal to hire more police officers, firefighters and paramedics without raising taxes. Greuel, currently the city controller, wants to set aside 20 percent of new revenues — about $24 million a year — to hire public safety personnel.