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Metro officials to consider extending Measure R transit tax

June 21, 2012 |  3:26 pm

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich in April.

Los Angeles County transportation officials will decide next week whether to support a proposed November ballot measure that would extend a half-cent sales tax for transit projects that voters first approved four years ago.

An extension to Measure R was a centerpiece of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's State of the City address in April and increasingly appears to be the only way he could achieve his goal of building 30 years' worth of transit projects in a single decade. It would allow the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority to raise billions of dollars for those projects in the coming years by borrowing against future tax revenues.

But Villaraigosa has received significant push back from some Metro board members, most notably County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, who has accused the mayor of ignoring the needs of the entire county while focusing on a few specific projects like the Westside subway extension.

Antonovich was the sole "no" vote (four directors voted "yes") during a Metro committee meeting Thursday on whether to forward the issue to the full board without a recommendation.

"It's premature to have this sent to the full board," Antonovich said. "There is no rush to judgment," he said, noting that Measure R would not expire until 2039 and there were opportunities to make a decision in the future.

If the full board does support the ballot measure, directors will have to decide how long to make the extension. One option is an extension that would only end when voters decided to eliminate it. Another option is a 30-year extension, which would double the length of the original measure.

The board will also vote next week whether to spend $10 million on "election costs and public information materials" related to the proposed Measure R extension ballot measure.

Metro officials said the Legislature and the Board of Supervisors must both approve the measure before it can be placed on the November ballot.


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Photo: Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich in April. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times