LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The defeat of a proposed half-cent sales tax increase sent officials at City Hall scrambling Wednesday to determine the next step in trimming the city’s $200 million deficit.

KNX 1070’s John Brooks reports widespread cuts to police and fire budgets had been threatened before voters rejected Proposition A.

The measure would have increased the city sales tax rate to 9.5 percent – just below the state-imposed 10 percent cap – with revenue that would have funded police and fire departments as well as some social services and street and sidewalk repairs.

City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana had previously warned the City Council that passage of the tax was critical to provide continued funding of as many as 500 police officer positions and to maintain other services.

But after 55 percent of Angelenos voted to oppose Proposition A, City Council President Herb Wesson called for an urgent meeting with Santana and outgoing Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who will submit the budget for the coming fiscal year on April 20.

“We have a problem and we have to fix it, so we have to realistically deal with this situation, put everything on the table, ’cause our responsibility is to get the city’s fiscal house in order,” Wesson said.

Funding for police and fire departments makes up approximately 70 percent of the total budget, according to city officials.

But Councilman Dennis Zine downplayed the need for reductions to LAPD staffing, citing improved city revenues that have already reduced the deficit by $90 million.

“As far as 500 police officers not having their jobs, I don’t see that happening,” said Zine, a former LAPD officer for nearly three decades. “There’s a lot of things we can do before we cut back on public safety, that’s the last thing we want to do.”

City officials said the proposed 9.5 percent tax rate would have been comparable to tax rates in other Southland cities including Inglewood and Santa Monica.

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