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City Council Weighs Increase in Sales Tax

The La Cañada Flintridge City Council is moving toward reintroducing as a ballot measure a proposal for increasing sales tax by 0.75% within the city, which could generate approximately $2.5 million.
“The state has established a statewide cap on retail sales tax of 10.25%, and in Los Angeles County, the general sales tax rate is 9.5%. But local agencies may impose a local sales tax measure to increase that up to the cap,” said City Manager Mark Alexander.
Alexander asked the City Council if they would be interested in having the voters decide whether the city wants to take advantage of the 0.75% margin that currently exists to generate local sales tax that would stay local as opposed to funding something outside of the city.
In 2019, the City Council tried to do a similar thing and sent out a survey to community members, which came back positively. But, because the La Cañada Unified School District introduced a parcel tax in the same year, the City Council decided to take it off the ballot.
Alexander noted that the cap is established by the state legislature and the state could increase that cap at some point in the future, but there are no guarantees.
“That money could either be for general fund revenue, or it could be special designated revenue depending on the desires of the council and the needs. A general election or a special election will determine the process that we have to follow in order to place this item on the ballot and whether it can be considered a general fund revenue or a special tax or special revenue,” said Alexander.
Alexander said a communitywide survey could be a heavily influential component in the process.
“It’s important to understand the community perspective and attitude toward the city, because that’s helpful in knowing whether they’re supportive, when the city is asking voters to approve a tax measure,” said Alexander.
Councilwoman Terry Walker expressed her interest in the tax.
“I would like to see us pursue it because I think $2.5 million would be huge in our community towards our budget. … So I would definitely be in favor of pursuing it, and I thought that the process we went through last time, was a very, very good process,” said Walker.
“I’ll just add [that] I am not a fan of taxes. Personally, I hate seeing my paycheck or my receipt go up because of taxes. But if I had to choose between paying taxes to somebody else or paying taxes and [the funds] going locally, I will obviously choose locally knowing that it will benefit our community the most,” said Mayor Keith Eich.
Councilman Michael Davitt also shared interest.
“I fully think it’s worth moving ahead with the survey and the research,” said Davitt.
The motion before the City Council is for seeking staff recommendations for a 0.75% increase in local sales tax and is not the determining factor to place a measure on the ballot. City staff will now start gathering additional information and bring back what they found before acting on placing it on a ballot.

First published in the April 27 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.


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