PACIFICA -- Voters in this cash-strapped coastal city will decide in November whether to tax their phone bills.

The Pacifica City Council moved unanimously Monday night to place a measure on the Nov. 5 ballot that would expand the city's utility users tax, which places a 6.5 percent levy on gas and electric services, to include telecommunications.

The tax brings in about $1.7 million a year right now, said City Manager Stephen Rhodes. Expanding it for eight years to include land line and mobile phone usage would bring in an extra $1.075 million annually, boosting the city's general fund budget of roughly $27 million.

The council also declared a fiscal emergency Monday, a necessary step for holding a tax vote in a year when there is no council election on the ballot. City officials say Pacifica's budget problems stem in part from state take-aways and lagging property and sales tax revenues.

"Our revenues are flat," said Rhodes, "and our expenses are increasing."

The measure will require majority approval. A recent survey found more than 60 percent of respondents supported broadening the tax, according to the city.

Contact Aaron Kinney at 650-348-4357. Follow him at Twitter.com/kinneytimes.



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