RB Election Ballots (copy)

Redondo Beach ballots are readied to be counted in this file photo from 2015.

The Redondo Beach City Council this week took the first steps toward putting a measure on the March election ballot asking voters to approve a half-percent sales tax increase.

If the measure makes it on the ballot and voters approve it, Redondo would have a 10% sales tax. The city would reap an estimated $5.3 million a year.

The council on Tuesday, Oct. 15, directed staff to draw up the ballot measure and the council will likely vote in November on whether to place it on the March ballot.

The proposed measure would include a provision allowing for an additional quarter-percent increase if Los Angeles County chooses to enact a tax increase of its own.

Under state law, cities can impose “transactions and use taxes.” But those taxes, along with state, county and other local sales taxes, cannot collectively exceed 10.25%. Redondo is currently at 9.5%.

A majority of the council on Tuesday said if the city does not increase the tax, then the county will eventually do so instead and the city would lose the ability to access that money.

“If we don’t keep it local, the county is going to come in and take it,” said Councilmember Laura Emdee.

In L.A. County, 37 cities have already implemented a sales tax, with 11 of those doing so after the November 2018 election, according to a city staff report; 52 cities and counties in California approved a similar increase in 2018, the report said.

If Redondo Beach were to enact the full 0.75% transactions-and-use tax, the city would bring in a total of $8 million a year, according to estimates.

“We are just beginning the conversation, though,” Emdee said. “If we feel people are not ready for it, then we won’t do it.”

Councilmembers said they would shop the idea among their constituents in the coming weeks. City officials have also discussed conducting a survey to gauge public opinion over a proposed tax increase.

Contact Lisa Jacobs lisa.jacobs@TBRnews.com or follow her on Twitter @lisaannjacobs.

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