LA Mayoral Candidates Spar Over Possible Sales-Tax Hike

By Conan Nolan and John Simerson
|  Tuesday, Feb 5, 2013  |  Updated 8:51 PM PDT
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On March 5th, Measure

Conan Nolan

On March 5th, Measure "A" will be on the ballot. If approved, the sales tax will increase by half a cent, which would result in an additional $215-million a year for the city's general fund. Mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel opposes it, while her opponents support it. Conan Nolan reports from Downtown LA for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on February 5, 2013.

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Backed by Los Angeles police and fire unions, City Controller and mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel on Tuesday pledged to bolster both departments, if elected mayor.

"As mayor, I will set aside 20 percent of revenue growth for hiring new police officers, firefighters and expanding crime prevention programs,” Greuel said.

She said the staff hikes will be paid for by increases in tax revenues from a growing economy and cutting what she called "wasteful spending."

Greuel’s rivals pounced on her plan.

"It is easy to find numbers during election season and make promises," said City Councilman Eric Garcetti. "I'm less concerned about the number of cops you put on the roster, as the amount that are already on the street or a patrol car protecting us."

This is not the first time Garcetti has taken issue with Greuel's calculations. Last week, he seized on a report in the Los Angeles Times that claims the city controller's numbers on wasteful spending she's uncovered are overstated.

Councilwoman Jan Perry, who is also running for mayor, said 70 percent of the city budget already goes to police and fire.

"So to promise to hire more police officers based on revenues that haven't been realized yet is a false promise," Perry said.

LA mayoral candidate and attorney Kevin James called Greuel’s pledge pandering, saying it was rosy revenue projections that resulted in deficits and talks of bankruptcy.

And while Greuel said it all can be done without increasing taxes, even the unions that have lent her their support disagree. She opposes a city sales tax increase on next month's ballot, while the unions support it.

"We stick to our issues, and our issue is whatever it takes to get the staff back up," said Frank Lima, president of the United Firefighters of Los Angeles City.

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