Prop. 457 takes aim at Glendale sales tax increase - CBS 5 - KPHO

Prop. 457 takes aim at Glendale sales tax increase

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GLENDALE, AZ (CBS5) -

Voters in Glendale have a big decision to make in November.

Proposition 457 is taking aim at a temporary sales tax increase meant to balance the city's budget.

If the initiative fails, the increase will remain in place.

If it's approved, the increase would be repealed, and the city warns it would be forced to make $25 million in budget cuts.

Faced with a $25 million budget deficit in June, the Glendale City Council approved raising the city's sales tax from 2.2 percent to 2.9 percent for a period of five years.

"On a purchase of $50, you're looking at a 35-cent difference," said Glendale city spokeswoman Jennifer Stein.

The increase went into effect Aug. 1, 2012, and will expire on Aug. 1, 2017.

But, if voters pass Prop. 457, the extra sales tax would end and the city would have to find other ways to shore up its budget.

That could mean eliminating all festivals, including Glendale Glitters and Chocolate Affair.

"To date, the first three festivals of the year have been 26 percent of my income," said Linda Moran-Whittley, who owns Papa Ed's Ice Cream in downtown Glendale.

She tells CBS 5 News businesses like her's depend on the festivals to attract new customers.

"It's needed for me to survive and continue to grow," Moran-Whittley said.

The proposed cuts wouldn't stop there.

The city said if Prop. 457 passes, it would be forced to eliminate 250 jobs, including police officers and firefighters.

"This is going to have a tremendous impact on our ability to serve the community," explained interim Glendale Police Chief Debbie Black. "It's going to eliminate all of our crime prevention programs."

Other proposed cuts, if the city loses its extra sales tax, include library closures and an end to many community programs.

Either way, the chairman of the initiative that got Prop. 457 on the ballot said he simply wants to give residents a voice.

"The City Council is sitting up there and they're taxing all the residents," said Rod Williams. "They're (residents) not given the opportunity to vote, and I think they should have a right to vote."

The city is hoping residents will vote no on Prop. 457 and keep the temporary sales tax in place.

City officials point out this is the first time in nearly 20 years that Glendale has raised its sales tax, despite the fact its population has grown more than 41 percent during that time, along with the need for more city services.

The city will be holding two more community meetings to inform residents about Prop. 457 and discuss proposed budget cuts in the event it passes in November.

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