City Councilman Sal DiCiccio says he believes he’s reached a compromise with other City Council members that will allow at least a portion of the city’s food tax to phase out before the 2015 deadline.
DiCiccio said in a meeting with Councilwoman Thelda Williams and Councilman Michael Nowakowski, they reached a compromise and will ask Mayor Greg Stanton to support a plan to eliminate half the tax in 2014 and the other half in 2015.
“We are requesting that the city manager bring forth a budget that eliminates 50 percent of the food tax starting Jan. 1, 2014, without affecting police, fire or other community services,” said a letter from Williams and Nowakowski to City Manager David Cavazos. “We would like the city manager to be prepared to discuss this budget for the purpose of information and action at the Formal City Council Meeting scheduled for May 1.”
Stanton promised during his campaign for mayor to get rid of the food tax as soon as possible, even by April 1. He announced on April 1 that he would not support getting rid of the food tax this year, as the money it provides is still vital to the city’s budget. City staff included a presentation on the food tax at each public budget hearing across the city this year.
Since the mayor’s announcement DiCiccio has been arguing for the city manager to investigate alternatives. DiCiccio, along with Councilmen Bill Gates and Jim Waring, have requested investigating sending the question of repealing the food tax to the voters, removing the entire tax through cutting government waste or removing half the tax this year and half the next. With Nowakowski and Williams adding their support to the phasing out option, DiCiccio believes they may have the votes they need.
“Hardworking taxpayers were being taken advantage of and politicians must be held accountable to keep their word,” DiCiccio said in a statement. “Mayor Stanton’s broken promise left another bitter taste with our citizens. Until now all we got were scare tactics — no plan, no direction and no leadership. What the public should hear from their politicians is that the public has already done their fair share. Government should now do the right thing and recognize that contribution by repealing the tax.”
The phase out option would not affect the budget this year and DiCiccio stresses that it must be done without cuts to public safety.
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