Adam Van Lul
On Tuesday La Verne residents will vote on a measure that would increase the city’s sales tax from 9.5% to 10.25%.
Measure LV would mean an additional 75 cent sales tax for each $100 spent in the city.
If approved Measure LV would generate roughly $3.1 million in revenue to increase pay for city employees, including police and fire fighters, and improve infrastructure.
Under the current sales tax rate of 9.5%, 8.5% of that money goes to the state and county.
According to city officials, La Verne had previously cut costs in a variety of ways such as reducing the number of city workers on its payroll.
“Originally we were thinking we only needed a half percent to restore public safety wages to median,” City Councilmember Muir Davis said.
“We decided that we would take all three quarters of a percentage to keep those resources local.”
The La Verne City Council has at times considered contracting with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, but the community has favored keeping its own police and fire departments.
Students at the University of La Verne, who would be affected by the tax when they eat out or shop in town, shared their thoughts on the tax measure.
Junior computer science major Brendon Wheeler agreed that city workers should be paid well for their services.
“Without the pay raises, who would fill their shoes and act on their positions,” Wheeler said.
Junior criminology major Mario Ordaz also agreed with the idea of Measure LV.
“People who live in La Verne are already paying a lot of their income just to live here and this city is very wealthy,” Ordaz said. “I believe that these are issues of L.A. County and that our city shouldn’t be further drained because of the incompetence of our representatives in our L.A. districts.”
The city created an FAQ on the tax, which noted that other local cities, including Covina, Glendora, and Pomona have benefited from implementing a similar sales tax measure.
They argue that with improved infrastructure, business from those living outside of La Verne would thrive.
With the current economic situation in La Verne, there was concern that employees would leave for higher pay in neighboring cities.
University of La Verne Assistant Professor of Economics Ryan Lee also believes the local tax would be a positive.
“If the county or state comes along and picks up that extra three quarters of a percentage point, the city is no longer getting that revenue,” Lee said.
“If you don’t raise up to the cap, there is a good chance in the future the county or state will. Why not keep more of that money locally?,” Lee said.
A similar tax measure for similar purposes failed in Claremont last year because voters did not support a regressive tax, which by definition hits lower income consumers harder.
Davis is optimistic that voters will approve Measure LV.
“I think it will pass handily because if it doesn’t, La Verne will have to reduce its level of service,” Davis said.
“I don’t think residents will knowingly choose that option.”
Adam Van Lul can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.