Mayor Terry Tornek said he would call on the City Council to support a three-quarter cent sales tax ballot measure.
At last week’s State of the City speech, Tornek called the tax increase the “Big Ask,” after telling the audience he had been trying to tell everyone the day was coming when the city would no longer be able to rely on its current sources of revenue to adequately pay its bills.
The increase would generate $21 million a year. Seven million dollars would go to the Pasadena Unified School District.
“If they are to continue their efforts to improve educational outcomes for our children, they need our support,” said Tornek. “We cannot have a great city without a great public school system.”
City expenses will exceed revenue by $3.5 million in 2019. Last year, the city took in $237 million in revenue, with more than $100 million going to public safety.
The city has rejected potential revenue builders over the past several years, including the NFL temporarily playing in the Rose Bowl, and barring marijuana dispensaries from operating within the city.
If the council approves the measure, it would appear on the Nov. 18 ballot.
The announcement came just days after the City Council voted in closed session to grant City Manager Steve Mermell a raise.
On Jan. 8, the Pasadena City Council voted to increase Mermell’s salary to $286,000 a year, excluding perks and benefits. Mermell also received a one-time $7,100 bonus. Mermell’s base salary was $275,000 when he was hired two years ago.
Mermell still makes less than his predecessor Michael Beck, who made $293,000 a year, excluding perks and benefits.
The raise and bonus are part of Mermell’s contract, which guarantees annual raises and bonuses if the council gives Mermell a favorable job review.