Warning the Los Angeles Police Department would have lay off police officers without new revenues, the Los Angeles City Council voted today to place a half-percent sales tax increase before voters on March 5.
The council, in an 11-4 vote, agreed to submit the tax hike to voters, if Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signs off on the measure. It would need a simple majority of voters to approve the measure, which would increase the sales tax to 9.5 percent on all goods sold in L.A.
"If we have to sustain more in the way of budget cuts, I am going to have to lay off police officers," Police Chief Charlie Beck said. "There is no other option."
Beck estimated he would have to lay off 500 officers for every $50 million taken from his budget.
However, former Mayor Richard Riordan, who is pushing a pension reform measure, urged the council to vote against the tax increase.
"What Los Angeles needs is more jobs, not more taxes," Riordan said.
Members voting against the proposal included Council members Eric Garcetti and Jan Perry, who are running for mayor, and Councilman Dennis Zine, who is running for city controller. Also opposed was Councilman Mitch Englander.
Perry and Zine said they did not believe now was a good time to raise taxes and there are other areas in which the city can save money.