Archived: Should L.A. Consider A Sales-Tax Hike?


Los Angeles’ Administrative Officer Miguel Santana and Chief Legislative Analyst Gerry Miller are recommending that the city council put on the November ballot a measure to hike the city’s sales-tax a half cent to pay for badly needed road and sidewalk repairs.

According to Santana and Miller, the measure would generate $3.86 billion for roads and potentially $640 million to fix the city’s broken sidewalks, and is preferable to taking out bonds because it spreads the cost among all Angelenos, and visitors to the city, and doesn’t only hit property owners.

The city’s current tax rate is 9 %, or 9 cents on every taxable spent. The proposed increase would make it 9.5% and expire in 15 years.

We wonder if Los Angeles voters are fed up enough with the poor conditions of their streets and sidewalks to approve such a measure, especially since it was just two years ago that they voted down increasing the sales tax to raise revenue in the city’s General Fund.

The backlash against the previous hike effort seemed in large part due to people not trusting that their elected officials would use the money as intended, but rather for special interest groups and projects.

We’ve tried to tell government officials that once you lose the public trust it takes a long time to get it back. Is two years too soon?

We don’t know what a final ballot measure will look like, but it’s clear it will have to be a lot more specific about how the revenue will be spent to convince the city’s residents to dig deeper into their pockets than they already are.

Some business owners are already saying they are worried a sales-tax hike will drive business away from their still struggling retail locations, which means there’s likely to be a strong campaign to defeat the measure.

We know our streets and sidewalks are in terrible shape, but so are voters’ wallets. Therefore we urge the city council to tread carefully and thoughtfully before moving ahead. The recession is still fresh in many people’s minds.

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