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City Council Approves Sales Tax Increase Measure With Conditions

The proposed half-cent sales tax increase is now in the hands of the San Diego city attorney. The measure managed to make it out alive of a special City Council meeting on Friday.

The council voted 6-2 to approve a proposal from Councilmembers Donna Frye and Todd Gloria that links financial reforms to the proposed sales tax increase. The mayor had also come out in support of the measure, but the proposal was modified to require the reforms be accomplished first, before the tax can be implemented.

The council must now decide whether to place the increase on the fall ballot. Gloria says the proposal was a good faith effort to incorporate ideas from the anti-tax side.

“We’ve heard a demand for the implementation of managed competition, that’s in there. We’ve heard for further reduction in personnel costs and expenditures on behalf of our city employees. That’s in there,” Gloria said.

But critics say the measure offers no guarantees of reform and no guarantee the tax increase would eventually sun-set if it’s approve by voters. Councilman Carl DeMaio vowed to keep fighting it.

“If you put this on the ballot I will commit my own personal funds and resources to defeat it at the ballot box,” he said. DeMaio predicted voters would reject the measure in November.

If approved, the half-cent sales tax would generate more than a $100 million a year for San Diego. The city is facing multi-million dollar budget deficits in the years ahead. Supporters of the tax say the increase could help prevent catastrophic service cuts.

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