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LA Metro board approves sales tax ballot measure; Measure heads to Supes

The Red, Purple, Blue and Expo Lines meet at 7th Street/Metro Center Station in Downtown L.A.
Todd Johnson/KPCC
The Red, Purple, Blue and Expo Lines meet at 7th Street/Metro Center Station in Downtown L.A.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority board approved a ballot measure Thursday that would ask county residents for a new half-cent sales tax and extension of an existing tax, both of which would not expire until voters recall them.

Revenues from the taxes would fund transit, highway, road, pedestrian and bicycle projects and programs in the county.

The latest measure, approved on a 11-2 vote, is a change from Metro's previous proposal that would have ended the half-cent sales tax after 40 years and extended the existing Measure R half-cent sales tax by 18 years to raise $120 billion.

The Metro measure next goes to the L.A. County supervisors, who also serve on the Metro board. If approved by the supervisors as expected, the measure would be placed on the November general election ballot with a two-thirds approval required for passage.

In public comments before the board's vote, several community representatives asked the board to accelerate projects in their areas that are part of the measure's transportation funding plan.

The board rejected a proposal to accelerate certain Measure R projects before newer projects would go forward. Metro's staff said doing so would result in a $20 billion financial deficit. 

But the board approved changes to the plan for North San Fernando Valley projects, allocating equal amounts of spending for each sub-region of that area.

The tax revenues would fund a long list of Metro projects and programs. Other Metro projects already under construction include the Crenshaw/LAX line, the Purple Line subway, and the Regional Connector project.

Since most cities in the county pay a sales tax rate of 9 percent, the ballot measure if approved would increase the tax to at least 9.5 percent. But the additional sales taxes would fall on some communities more heavily than others, among them La Mirada, Pico Rivera and South Gate that have high taxes.

This story has been updated.