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BREA : City Studying How to Spend New Funds

An internal study is underway to determine the most appropriate uses for about $175,000 in sales tax money the city will receive this year as a result of Proposition 172.

The measure, which was approved by California voters in November, 1993, authorizes a half-cent sales tax increase to pay for local public safety services. Brea expects to receive from $150,000 to $200,000 annually from this new revenue source.

Assistant City Manager Tim O’Donnell said results of the study are expected to be presented to the City Council for action sometime this fall.

At its regular meeting last week, the council unanimously approved a resolution that said money from sales tax will be used to bolster police and fire services, rather than just replace monies that were already budgeted.

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City Manager Frank Benest said that because the state legislation was “poorly drafted,” some cash-strapped cities have used Proposition 172 funds “to solve serious problems in their existing budgets” instead of increasing police and fire services.

Some cities have even defined “public safety” in a broad sense, he said, and used the new sales tax money to repair potholes.

“This is a trust issue,” said Councilman Burnie Dunlap, who said California voters agreed to the tax hike because they wanted a higher level of public safety.

Mayor Glenn G. Parker said that when cities defeat the intent of Proposition 172, it becomes harder to win voter support for similar measures in the future.

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