The Board of Supervisors postponed a procedural vote required to put a 30-year extension of the half-cent Measure R sales tax for transportation projects on the November ballot.
The county's lead attorney told the board that they were required to move the matter forward by Aug. 7 to avoid a lawsuit that would force them to act.
On June 28, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors voted 10-3 to put the tax-extension measure on the ballot in order to get federal funding for projects during a time of low interest rates and high unemployment. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa says the pending work would create about 400,000 jobs.
All five county supervisors sit on Metro's 13-person board and three of them -- Supervisors Don Knabe, Michael Antonovich and Mark Ridley-Thomas -- cast the dissenting votes. Knabe said the move was premature and counter to Metro's conservative fiscal policies. Ridley-Thomas said he thought voter approval was unlikely.
A public hearing on the matter is scheduled before the Metro board on Aug. 6.
Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said an amendment allowing dollars to be shifted from one project to another and across transportation types was expected to be added to the proposed ballot measure at that meeting and urged his colleagues to act now. But Knabe, Antonovich and Ridley-Thomas voted to postpone any action until Aug. 7.
Measure R was originally approved by voters in 2008. A two-thirds majority vote in November would be required to approve the extension.