LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday to place a half-cent sales tax increase on the March ballot.

If approved on March 5, voters will decide whether to raise the sales tax rate from 8.75 percent to 9.25 percent, giving Los Angeles one of the highest sales tax rates in the nation.

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KNX 1070’s Claudia Peschiutta reports measure is expected to generate $215 million in revenue to protect city services, including the police and fire departments.

Police Chief Charlie Beck says his department will be forced to lay off 500 police officers if the tax increase fails.

A spokesman for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the mayor will abstain from voting on the measure, which will place its fate squarely in the hands of voters next year.

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The city is facing a $216 million deficit for the 2013-14 fiscal year.

The measure, which was introduced by Council President Herb Wesson, is opposed by the business community, mayoral candidates and labor unions.

Councilman Dennis Zine is among opponents of any tax increase that he fears will paralyze the growth of Southland businesses.

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“We can’t keep maxing out credit cards and getting more credit cards, which is what we’re doing by increasing this,” said Zine.