The Sacramento City Council on Tuesday night formally placed a half-percentage-point increase on the city sales tax on the November ballot.
Council members last week indicated they supported asking the voters to approve the increase. Tuesday's unanimous vote made the ballot measure official.
A half-percentage-point hike in the sales tax would generate an estimated $28 million a year. It would also raise the city's sales tax rate to 8.25 percent tied with Galt for the highest in the region.
If the tax increase passes, the City Council is also seeking to place a six-year sunset on the tax, create a citizens oversight committee to review how the tax dollars are spent and conduct annual audits of the revenue.
City unions and religious organizations are among the groups already expressing support of the measure.
"We need this measure to help us address gang violence in our city," said Les Simmons, a pastor at the South Sacramento Christian Center.
The city has addressed cumulative deficits of more than $200 million during the current economic downturn. This summer, more than a dozen police officers were laid off, the second straight year that police jobs were slashed.
"I think it's time for us to have this conversation with the electorate," said Councilman Kevin McCarty. "We think this is a viable approach."
Mayor Kevin Johnson and some business leaders have expressed opposition to the measure. Business interests said they are worried that an increased tax rate in Sacramento would drive consumers to neighboring cities.
Johnson said that a higher tax rate puts the city at "a competitive disadvantage," but that voters should have the final say on the increase.
Councilwoman Angelique Ashby also said she was willing to support asking the voters to weigh in on the measure, but said she was "not sure I can support the tax measure itself."
"I don't think we're doing the right thing at the right moment," she said.
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