Either Monday or Tuesday, San Diego’s City Council likely will decide if it will put a half-cent sales tax increase before voters in November.
It takes six council members to move a sales tax ballot measure forward, and it’s unclear if the votes are there.
Council members Kevin Faulconer and Carl DeMaio, the council’s two Republicans, are against it. They made their position known even before there was a formal proposal.
With Faulconer and DeMaio opposed, the council’s six Democrats all have to vote in favor.
While not one has gone on record in support of raising the sales tax, five of the six — Todd Gloria, Tony Young, Donna Frye, Marti Emerald and Ben Hueso — all have talked about the need for the city to raise revenue.
That leaves Sherri Lightner, a Democrat who represents northern San Diego communities including La Jolla.
I’ve tried to reach Lightner at various times this week. On Monday, a staff member told me she hadn’t yet decided. Today, Lightner and I were supposed to get together for coffee, but her office called to postpone citing her preparation for the full council docket before the August recess. Her spokeswoman didn’t return my calls today to talk about the sales tax.
I did some quick research on her past positions on new taxes, and she’s appeared to be against them.
Here’s Lightner from a KPBS interview in December:
As far as taxes go, that’s a vote of the people and that is something that I think the people in the city of San Diego have to feel that the City Council is doing a good job with the money we are entrusted with right now. And I’m not sure that we’re quite there yet.
Lani Lutar, CEO of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association and a sales tax opponent, said there’s speculation Lightner is the swing vote. But ultimately she thought the measure was going to make it.
“We’re anticipating that it’s going to be on the ballot and we’re preparing to mount an aggressive campaign against it,” Lutar said.
– LIAM DILLON