/ Modified nov 22, 2016 7:17 a.m.

Should Tucson Raise Sales Tax to Pay for Roads, Police, Fire?

Tucson City Council asks for feedback on the idea at Tuesday's council meeting.

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The Tucson City Council will hold a public hearing Tuesday to allow residents to comment on a proposal to raise the city sales tax by a half a percent.

The tax is 2 percent, and the council is considering asking voters in May to approve a half-cent increase, bringing the total city portion of the sales tax to 2.5 percent.

City Manager Michael Ortega suggested the tax as a way to balance the city's budget, which has seen a deficit for many years in a row, requiring cuts or other ideas to raise more money.

An extra half-cent tax on every dollar spent on taxable items in Tucson would bring in about $50 million a year, according to Ortega's estimates.

The city council discussion is about a five-year plan for spending $250 million. The proposal is to spend about $100 million to catch up on road repair, fixing major streets and neighborhood roads. The other $150 million would be spent on public safety equipment, such as police cars.

The council meeting starts at 5:30 p.m., and the hearing is among other items slated for public comment Tuesday night.

The council will hold another hearing Dec. 6 and could make a final decision that night on whether to send the proposal to voters next May.

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