By James Rufus Koren Staff Writer
Created: 06/03/2011 03:08:27 PM PDT

A bill approved this week by the state Senate would give local officials and voters the power to raise vehicle taxes to boost local budgets.

But even if the bill is approved by the Assembly and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, San Bernardino County leaders say the county would not raise its own car tax.

“I would not disregard it, but I certainly would not support it,” said Josie Gonzales, chairwoman of the Board of Supervisors. “Looking at the people I represent who are struggling…. I could not support it.”

The bill, by state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, would allow a county to collect its own vehicle license fee if such a move were approved by a two-thirds vote of the county supervisors and then by a majority of county voters in an election.

The vehicle license fee is 1.15percent of the current value of a vehicle. That will drop to 0.65percent in July. Leno’s bill, Senate Bill 223, would allow counties to levy their own fee, bringing the total fee to no more than 2 percent.

The measure was approved Wednesday on a 23-15 vote. Republicans, including state Sen. Bob Huff, R-Walnut, opposed the measure.

Huff called the bill “another illustration of the insatiable appetite (lawmakers) have for raising taxes.”

Leno countered that the bill is all about local control and that if “your county doesn’t want it, it doesn’t happen.”

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