munipiece2.jpgAgency will ask board to consider sales, payroll, four other taxes

Muni has no qualms about the “tax and spend liberal” label: after all, the deficit-burdened transit agency would love to have money to spend. But in order to spend, one must first tax, and San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency general manager Nathaniel P. Ford, Sr., said Wednesday he may ask the Board of Supervisors to push one of six tax increases that would help the transit agency balance a long-term budget deficit.

The proposed taxes and their projected windfalls are as follows:

— $65 million from an additional .5 percent sales tax (bringing the tax you pay on goods bought in SF to a new high of 10%);
–$33 million from a 2 percent vehicle licensing fee (up from 1.15 percent);
–$55-$60 million from a .25 percent increase in the city’s payroll tax (up from 1.5 percent);
–$29 million from a $200 per-parcel tax on San Francisco’s 144,000 residential and commercial properties;
–$11 million from a 1 percent increase in the hotel tax (bringing it up to 15%);
–$20 million from a 10 percent increase in the “commercial off-street parking tax” (garages), up from 25 percent.

Any one of these would have to wind through the legislative process by August 6 in order to qualify for the November ballot, according to the Department of Elections. It warrants mention that every effort to put a tax increase on the ballot over the last two years has failed, and that revenue measures require a 2/3 super-majority at the polls to become law.

Taxes are tough pills to swallow, but long-term budget solutions will surely be the name of the game this budget season, as the city faces some $1.5 billion in looming budget deficits over the next several years.

The long-term crunch is why the much-publicized $36 million grant from the state won’t stave off either Muni’s May 8 citywide service cuts or the 280 layoffs throughout Muni’s ranks. The service cuts will save an additional $28.8 million, and trims the next deficit to a mere $26 million.

The agency is also considering charging for Sunday parking, but extended meter hours during the week are off the table, Ford reaffirmed. Ford also pledged the agency will not cut any more service or raise fares until 2012, when a slight budget surplus is projected. At that time, Muni could add back service cut this year. But in the meantime, “we feel good about the system [Muni will run after the 10 percent service cuts],” Ford said. “It’s a smaller system… a better system.”

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