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Anti-Tax Advocates Worry San Diego Tax Increase Would Go Toward Pension Deficit

— A group of anti-tax advocates in San Diego says a sales tax hike will not restore cuts made to fire service, parks and libraries. They say instead the money will go toward back-filling San Diego's massive pension deficit.

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders is considering a half-cent sales tax increase to help close the city's $72 million budget deficit. If approved by the city council, the measure would be placed on the November ballot.

But a group of anti-tax advocates are already lining up against the measure. The group of is made up of San Diego city and business leaders.

April Bowling, chair of San Diego City's Pension Reform Committee, said the money would more likely go toward fixing the city's pension problems, not paying for basic services.

“We have a huge pension crisis in the City of San Diego. Now there is a proposal to ask the city residents to pony up to pay for the huge mistakes that were made by elected officials in the past. What we need instead, is pension reform,” Bowling said.

At the Westfield Mall in La Jolla, people like Bill Cavanagh said he supports a half-cent sales tax to help the city deal with its budget, but not to fix problems with its pension system.

“I think they would have to bankrupt the old pension (plan). It is unsustainable. So why put more money toward it?,” Cavanagh said.

Mayor Jerry Sanders has not endorsed a sales tax increase. His office said it's just one of the options he is considering. Five years ago, the mayor's campaign took a stand against a sales tax increase.

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