The sales tax increase might not be dead.

City union leaders will hold a press conference Monday morning at City Hall to urge the city to put raising the sales tax on November’s ballot, firefighter union President Frank De Clercq said late Friday.

“It’s our duty to give the people the opportunity to decide what they want to do in November,” De Clercq said.

The announcement was the latest twist in a busy week of activity on major city financial reform. On Monday, Mayor Jerry Sanders withdrew support for a half-cent sales tax increase in the face of intense opposition from Republican and business interests.

Today, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith released a proposal to privatize city trash services, an idea he contends would save the city $34 million annually. It would in essence do away with The People’s Ordinance, which mandates that homeowners pay no fee for trash pickup, by sidestepping it altogether.

City Council faces an Aug. 6 deadline to place items on November’s ballot and the city has at least a $73 million budget deficit for next year, the city’s 10th straight year of deficits. Further, Sanders has said he would have a plan to end the city’s persistent deficits by June 2011.

All the measures discussed would require City Council approval to reach the ballot and voter approval to be enacted. Goldsmith has called his plan “a long shot” to go before voters in November because of the timing involved.

Initial reaction to Goldsmith’s proposal was negative from both sides of the political spectrum. Lorena Gonzalez, head of the local labor umbrella group, said roughly 500 city workers would lose their jobs under the plan and city residents likely would pay more in trash fees than if voters simply repealed the city’s ban on charging single-family homeowners for trash pickup.

“This is something that benefits no San Diegans except the trash haulers,” Gonzalez said.

April Boling, who was part of the coalition that defeated the sales tax proposal, applauded Goldsmith for beginning a conversation on privatizing city services.

But she didn’t believe trash services were the place to start, saying other services were less vital.

“If you are going to eliminate a service, why would you eliminate one that is used by a majority of the people in the city?” Boling said. “Why wouldn’t you start with services that are used by a smaller number of citizens?”

Further, she said, the plan means the city would be shifting the cost of trash collection to residents without giving them a tax rebate.

Before Goldsmith released his proposal, Sanders said he was aware of the city attorney’s effort and interested in seeing his formal plan. A mayoral spokeswoman said this afternoon Sanders hadn’t yet reviewed it.

— LIAM DILLON

Dagny Salas

Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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