The passage of Measure P in Burbank signals the beginning of a combined 10.25% sales tax in the city, and, while some residents welcome it, others are dreading its arrival.
The ballot measure garnered 16,039 votes, or just a tick over 60%, in the midterm election on Tuesday, which allows the city to implement a three-quarter-cent local sales tax to help pay for infrastructure needs and deferred pension costs.
The local sales tax, set to go into effect April 1, is projected to generate about $20 million annually for Burbank, and city officials plan to use no less than half of those funds for infrastructure projects that have been piling up.
Residents Phillip Daniel and Justin Wilcox, who were walking their dogs in Magnolia Park on Thursday, both said that they see the value in the local sales tax and think it’s necessary to maintain service levels in the city.
Daniel, who has lived in Burbank for several years, said he understands the financial hardships the city is going through, and he thinks city services would have been reduced if Measure P did not pass.
Burbank is currently in the middle of a systemic budget deficit that was primarily created due to the city choosing to go on a pension holiday for several years decades ago.
City officials are projecting a General Fund deficit of about $9.5 million by fiscal year 2022-23. On top of that, Burbank has about $470 million in infrastructure projects that have yet to be addressed.
“[The sales tax] is a part of maintaining our beautiful city and our great way of life here,” Daniel said. “We don’t have the funds set aside to make improvements that need to be done, so we have to pay for [them].”
He added: “We have to make the investment. I understand that we live in a high-tax state, but we’re talking about a couple of cents on the dollar to make necessary improvements.”
On the other hand, Ralph Persinger, owner of Burbank Antiques in Magnolia Park, said he and other merchants were already struggling with customers who didn’t want to pay a sales tax on their goods, adding that the three-quarter-cent hike may spell the doom for many mom-and-pop stores in the neighborhood.
Before the passage of Measure P, Burbank had a combined state and county sales tax of 9.5% — a 7.25% state sales tax, 2% from Los Angeles County transportation measures and a quarter-cent sales tax from the county’s Measure H, designed to address homelessness.
Rather than implement a sales tax, Persinger said Burbank officials should have been cutting the number of city employees to save money. He added that he does not understand how the city can be in such dire financial straits when the major businesses in the city, such as the media studios, are doing so well.