The Anaheim City Council apparently will let voters decide if more police protection is worth an increase in property taxes.
The council voted unanimously Tuesday to have city staff members prepare a resolution that would place a tax measure on the November ballot.
The measure would permit the city to increase property taxes to pay for expanded police facilities and 44 new police personnel.
City officials estimate the total cost of the ambitious program, which would be spread over a period of several years, at $30 million and say the additions are critical for ensuring public safety.
"This program is absolutely necessary for the safety of our citizens and will take care of our future needs," Councilwoman Miriam Kaywood said.
The mechanics of the measure, including the amount of the tax increase, still have to be worked out, said City Atty. Jack L. White. But White said the increase would not likely be significant.
Council members acknowledged that achieving the necessary two-thirds majority vote on the measure might prove difficult but vowed to mount a major effort to sell the tax hike to the public.
"The two-thirds requirement is a very big obstacle," said Councilman Irv Pickler. "It's tough to read now how the public will respond to this. But if we can make people understand that this money will be used for a specific purpose and not (be) thrown into general funds, they will accept it. The majority of the City Council feels that we don't want to impose new taxes; that is why we want the people to make that determination."
The council will vote on the language of the resolution next Tuesday and have until the end of the month to inform county officials of their intent to place the measure on the ballot.
In other action, the council voted to deny a request by the Anaheim Hills Citizens Coalition, a homeowners' group, to reconsider a decision to allow the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to build a church in a residential area on Fairmont Boulevard.
Councilman Fred Hunter abstained, citing a conflict of interest because he lives near the site.
The council's decision to allow the building came despite two refusals by the Planning Commission to grant a permit for the construction.
The coalition, which represents about 400 homeowners in the area, contends that it did not receive a fair hearing and has filed a lawsuit that seeks to nullify the decision.
Robert Zimmel, attorney for the group, said a number of environmental issues were not addressed before the council made its decision, including the destruction of habitats for several species of rare or endangered birds.
Homeowners also argued that the church would attract Mormons from throughout the area and would create a traffic hazard on the narrow boulevard.
But council members said homeowner fears were unwarranted and cited hundreds of letters from neighbors in the area who support the church.