San Diego’s City Council approved a financial reform ballot measure Wednesday that would increase sales tax by a half-cent.
In a unique compromise, unheard of in the state of California, the levy is conditioned on the implementation of 11 fiscal reform measures.
The 6 to 2 vote, with Councilmembers Carl DeMaio and Kevin Faulconer opposed, was the minimum majority required to place a proposition on the Nov. 2nd ballot.
If voters ultimately approve the measure, San Diego's sales tax rate would increase to 9.25 cents on the dollar once the city auditor certifies that the fiscal reform provisions -- which call for further privatizing of city services and operations and reductions in labor costs -- have been met, and the City Council passes an ordinance to put the levy into effect.
For Donna Frye, 6th District San Diego City Councilmember, the ballot measure was a starting point. "Again, I will say there will be some here who will never, ever -- no reform will be enough,” Frye said Wednesday. “And that is what it is. But for now, I believe that this can work."
"This council together -- all of us, not just six of us -- but all of us working with the mayor's office, with our employee groups to save more than $300 million in the last year and a half. And that's not chump change," said Marti Emerald, 7th District San Diego City Councilmember.
"This ballot measure, in essence, is the failed politics of the past,” said early opponent Carl DeMaio, 5th District San Diego City Councilmember. “ Of saying one thing and doing another. Of watering down reforms,"
Among the voices in the discussion before Wednesday’s vote, was former San Diego City Attorney, Mike Aguirre who operated as the city’s Cassandra.
"No one is going to buy the idea that this is 'reform before taxes'. And then when you lose, you're going to leave the next council in a very difficult position -- which will then, eventually they will have no choice but to go into bankruptcy," Aguirre told the council.
In comparison, El Cajon and National City still lead the county when it comes to sales tax rates with 9.75%. La Mesa imposes a 9.5% sales tax on its residents while Vista currently has a 9.25% sales tax.
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