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Sales tax to rise to 8.75% for transit

Posted: November 5, 2008 9:34 p.m.
Updated: November 6, 2008 4:59 a.m.
 
A half-cent sales tax to improve transportation in Los Angeles County was among the measures approved by voters on Election Day.

Measure R, which required a two-thirds majority, will increase sales tax to 8.75 percent in Los Angeles County to pay for mass transit and road projects.

Supporters say the money will be used to synchronize traffic signals, repair potholes and extend light-rail service with airport connections.

The measure received more than 1.63 million votes, for 67.41 percent of the vote, ahead of 32.59 percent of voters who opposed it.

Supervisor Mike Antonovich opposed the measure, saying it would benefit primarily Los Angeles city communities with a "subway to the sea."

The measure promises to keep transit fares low for seniors, students and disabled people. It would also pave the way for clean-fuel buses and expand the subway and Metrolink bus services.

Measure S, a Santa Clarita Valley proposal, calls for the removal of all salt-based self-regenerating water softeners installed in Santa Clarita Valley homes that are serviced by the county's sanitation district.

The measure received 63.93 percent of the vote, with 36.07 opposing.

Proponents of the ballot measure argued that getting rid of existing water softeners will reduce the amount of salt that ends up in the Santa Clara River. Salt is harmful to crops downstream.

Sanitation advocates of the measure reported 4 percent of homeowners in Santa Clarita Valley still own and use automatic water softeners.

Antonovich and Supervisor Gloria Molina on Wednesday hailed the passage of Measure U, which will extend a utility users tax in unincoprorated areas of Los Angeles County to clearly include cell phones and new technology. The move is intended to help fund county services.

It needed a simple majority to pass and won handily with 62.46 percent of the vote compared to 37.54 percent who voted against it.

In a news release issued by Antonovich's office on the heels of the win, he and Molina said the money will be spent wisely. "We must keep faith with the community and ensure that the revenues generated by it will be used for law enforcement, park/library operations, street repairs, community services and infrastructure needs," Antonovich said in the statement.

The measure is expected to lower the tax from 5 percent to 4.5 percent but extend it to cell phones and other "new" communications technologies.

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