LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles City Council was to vote Tuesday on whether to put four separate tax measures on the March ballot that would raise property, real estate transfer, parking and sales taxes.
The proposed half-cent sales tax increase, estimated to generate between $208 million and $215 million in its first year, is the only one of the four that would close the city’s $216 million projected shortfall in fiscal 2012-2013.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa fell short of offering support for the sales tax in a letter to the council saying before he could offer his support, he would need the council to move forward on seven financial reform measures.
The mayor wants the council to adopt a new operating model for the Los Angeles Zoo, an alternate management structure for the convention center, eliminate 209 city positions included in the budget, maintain police hiring, and consolidate the street maintenance and development-related functions of the city.
He also wants the council to approve recommendations for a new economic development entity and use part of the money from any tax increases to maintain the reserve fund at a minimum of 5% of general fund receipts.
“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 said in his letter.
On Friday, a committee chaired by city council president Herb Wesson moved the four measures out of committee for consideration by the entire council, but only recommended putting the sales tax on the ballot.
Wesson proposed the sales tax two weeks ago that is estimated to generate between $208 million and $215 million in its first year.
The real estate transfer tax would generate between $76 million and $82 million in the first year, the parking tax would generate $41 million to $43 million and the parcel tax would generate $30.5 million, according to the city administrative office.
Wesson had asked committee members to take a “strong stance” in favor of the sales tax before the committee vote, because it nets the largest amount of money. The sales tax would nearly eliminate the city’s $216 million deficit projected for 2012-13.
The sales tax proposal was amended to include a citizen’s oversight committee headed by the city controller’s office.
The mayor fell short of pledging support for the sales tax, but he also said the city has few options for responsible spending cuts left on the table.
“Having undergone five years of drastic budget and service reductions, the prospect of a much-needed increase in base revenue in Los Angeles is something we should consider,” Villaraigosa said. “However, we cannot lose sight of the urgent and ongoing need to follow through with necessary cost-cutting actions, public-private partnership initiatives, and municipal efficiency efforts.”
In March, Los Angeles voters will also select a new mayor and elect eight new members to the 15-member city council.