The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to put the measure on the Nov. 6 ballot.
But even if voters approve the tax increase, it isnt expected to fill the entire budget gap, and further budget cuts are likely.
City projections show the tax would generate about $1.27 million per year starting in 2014, but the city would receive just about half that amount because of the time needed to implement the tax.
Some purchases, including food and automobiles, would be exempt from the tax. State law requires that one-third of the money generated from the increase be spent on criminal justice.
City Manager Steve Hall made a case for the council to let voters decide on the tax to spare cuts to the Police Department. He said the city envisioned, in 1996, a department that could proactively solve community problems.
But the city doesnt have the resources, he said. It since has reduced the force by six commissioned officers, cut the downtown walking patrol and cut pedestrian and safety patrols by half, and we dont have a department that can meet our expectations of community policing.
If the city has to make cuts, they will be across the board, Hall said.
The City Councils finance committee Mayor Stephen Buxbaum, Councilman Nathaniel Jones and Councilwoman Karen Rogers recommended the tax after meeting with handpicked community representatives.
The council also considered other tax increase possibilities, such as a propertytax increase. Many of the options they considered require voter approval.
Buxbaum has maintained that residents should be given the option to preserve public services, such as downtown police patrols, neighborhood crime prevention, block watch and graffiti removal.
If the city doesnt get new revenue, it could eliminate four officer positions, emphasis patrols and the school resource-officer program, according to city staffers. Crime victim assistance also could be on the chopping block.
Those are the types of things that we have available to use as we protect the security of our community, Buxbaum said. But there is not a firm proposal for what areas to cut.
Rogers said she supports putting the measure to voters. But she said if the city sells the Smith Building for $1 for a homeless shelter (as it later took another step toward), she fears were setting this ballot measure up for failure.
Councilman Steve Langer said he didnt see a connection with the Smith Building and that the move would help downtown. Councilwoman Jeannine Roe agreed, saying so many people are always commenting that they want more walking patrol.
mbatcheldor@ theolympian.com 360-704-6869 @MattBatcheldor