HAWTHORNE : Emergency Tax Hikes Delayed by Council

The City Council on Monday put off imposing more than $3 million in emergency tax increases to aid the deficit-plagued city treasury, saying details need to be worked out.

Council members had been scheduled to vote on a 5% increase in the city's utility users' tax and a 3% hike in the hotel tax.

Taken together, the increases would mean an estimated $3.8-million yearly boost to the city, which is reeling from a $10.5-million deficit and faces about $5 million in unpaid bills.

Although the local Chamber of Commerce has backed the tax increases, a representative for Southern California Gas Co. said that boosting the utility tax immediately would create problems in billing.

"We could not implement (the increase) the way it's written," gas company district manager Susan Williams-Guerra said. A Southern California Edison representative echoed the concern.

Councilman Steven Andersen said postponing the vote was necessary to discuss setting limits on how much individuals would pay and how long the increase would remain in effect.

Both taxes are expected to be discussed again March 13.

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