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Voters give green light for higher local sales tax

Voters give green light for higher local sales tax
Jessica Collette of Burbank grabbed an ice cream for her 20-month old son Kingston Collette outside the Buena Vista Library polling location in Burbank on Tuesday. A table providing free food and ice cream was provided by Stratiscope for its Party at the Polls event. (Raul Roa / Burbank Leader)

A sales-tax hike in Burbank received support from voters Tuesday night, according to unofficial results.

Measure P, which asked Burbank voters if a three-quarter-cent sales tax should be implemented to help the city pay for deferred pension costs and growing infrastructure needs, garnered 16,039 votes, or 60.02%, while 10,685 voters, 39.98%, didn’t support it, according to unofficial results from the Los Angeles County Registrar’s Office.

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It’s estimated Measure P will generate about $20 million annually, of which no less than half will be used toward paying for infrastructure projects that have been put on the back burner — a total of roughly $470 million for various repairs and upkeep.

Burbank officials plan to address about 75% of the annual infrastructure needs each fiscal year for the next 25 years.

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That means the city is expected to budget about $18 million a year to pay for various infrastructure projects.

Funds generated by the sales tax will also go toward deferred pension costs.

Should the ballot measure be approved in the official vote count, Burbank’s combined sales tax will jump to 10.25%. Currently, the city has a 7.25% state sales tax, 2% tax from L.A. County transportation measures and a quarter-cent sales tax from the county’s Measure H, designed to address homelessness.

After making several cost-saving measures internally and Burbank voters approving Measure T in June, which allows the city to continue transferring up to 7% of Burbank Water and Power’s gross annual electric sales into the city’s General Fund, city officials turned to the new sales tax to help address the city’s systemic budget deficit.

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Despite cost-saving measures already in place, Burbank’s deficit is projected to grow to about $9.5 million by fiscal year 2022-23.

However, some residents have argued that the city has not cut enough, specifically from city employees’ salaries, and that a sales tax is not necessary.

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