Archived: Put MTA Sales Tax on the Ballot, Urges L.A. Council

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The Los Angeles City Council yesterday urged county supervisors to place a half-cent sales tax for public transportation on the Nov. 4 general election ballot, not on a separate ballot that would cost millions of dollars and could lead to voter confusion.

Because the five-member Board of Supervisors declined Tuesday to put the measure on the general election ballot, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority would have to foot a higher cost to place the tax measure on a separate ballot to be distributed on the same day.

Supervisor Mike Antonovich has repeatedly raised concerns that the money from the tax would be disproportionately spent on projects that benefit the city of Los Angeles, while Supervisor Gloria Molina called the tax proposal a “concocted scheme.”

Placing the measure on the general election ballot would cost Metro $7.2 million. Splitting the ballot would increase that cost to $9 million or $10 million, according to county Registrar-Recorder Dean Logan.

In a 10-2 vote, the City Council passed a resolution asking the county board to place the measure on the regular ballot and allow voters to decide the merits of the tax.

“It is not for a body to say we don’t want to put it on the ballot,” said City Councilwoman Wendy Greuel, chair of the Transportation Committee.
“Transportation is in a crisis-point in all of our region … we have to do something. We’ve been a self-help city.”

City Councilmen Dennis Zine and Richard Alarcon voted against the resolution.
“There comes a time when the imbalances that are created by a bond measure are so dramatic so as to not be in any way, shape or form fair. The fact of the matter is this is $40 billion,” Alarcon said.

“I don’t think it’s too much for the taxpayers in the (San Fernando) Valley, the taxpayers in San Gabriel, taxpayers in Santa Clarita to ask for a fair share of the largest pie ever. And this proposal does not do that.”

Following Tuesday’s vote, MTA Chief Executive Officer Roger Snoble said the transit agency will sue to undo the supervisors’ decision.

The proposed half-cent tax increase would generate a projected $40 billion over 30 years. Because the ballot measure is a tax, it would require two-thirds voter approval for passage.

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