Prop. D trailing in early tallies

City News Service

A proposition that would raise the sales tax in San Diego by a half-cent was losing in early returns Tuesday night by a wide margin.

With absentee ballots counted, 61.8 percent of San Diego voters were opposed to Proposition D, compared to 38.2 percent in favor.

Proposition D would raise the sales tax in San Diego from 8.75 cents to 9.25 cents and generate about $102 million annually for the city’s general fund.

Before the tax could be levied, the independent city auditor would have to certify that 10 other benchmarks -- related to city pensions, retiree health care obligations and outsourcing -- have been met.

Four of those changes have already been adopted by the San Diego City Council.

Supporters of Proposition D argued the new revenue is needed to maintain and restore city services, including public safety.

Mayor Jerry Sanders has projected a budget shortfall for San Diego of $72 million next fiscal year.

Opponents, led by Councilman Carl DeMaio, accused Sanders and other proponents of using scare tactics to frighten the public into voting for the tax increase by threatening public safety cuts.

They insist the budget gap could be closed by eliminating wasteful spending at City Hall, overhauling the pension system and streamliningmunicipal finances.