La Quinta, Calif. -

The La Quinta City Council said Tuesday night that they may ask residents to vote on a general tax increase.

The city is operating at a deficit and says it does not have the funds to continue maintaining landscaping and lighting.

Survey results revealed at the March 18 council meeting showed fewer than 37 percent of residents in North La Quinta said they would be willing to pay even a small assessment to the city for improvements to landscaping in their neighborhood.

They'll be happy to know city hall heard them loud and clear.

"They have spoken that you do not want a special assessment tax," La Quinta City Council member Linda Evans said. "Therefore we really can't put it on the ballot right now because it would just die. That's an expense we shouldn't incur, knowing the feed back that you just gave us."

Residents in the rest of La Quinta may not be too happy to hear council's proposed solution to improve landscaping and lighting.

"I would rather see a general tax," Council member Terry Henderson said.

And that would affect every property owner in the city.

Since 1995, La Quinta residents have paid just $35.60 annually for landscaping and lighting. North La Quinta has far fewer home owner's association's that take care of landscaping and lighting than the rest of the city.

"The more we can think about being one community, with folks living here and there and everywhere," Council member Kristy Franklin said. "I just think that's really important. So, as one community we need to increase that $35 dollars, citywide."

Most of the people in attendance at the council meeting are resident's of North La Quinta, and they were happy to hear council's suggestion.

"There's still a lot of people that are going to resist an increase in their landscaping and lighting fee on their property taxes," La Quinta resident, Marty Butler said. "But they can probably handle $30 or $40 dollars more a year. When they were being told it could be $200 to $400 dollars a year, they got upset."

Spreading the increase out across the whole city is what would make the cost less for those who need the landscaping improvements most. More than 50 percent of voters would have to approve a general tax increase, which council says they could direct funds from towards landscaping and lighting.

"I understand that they've lost redevelopment funds," La Quinta resident, Deborah McGarrey said. "I understand the economy. I understand how that plays a role with regards to their taxes. I want to see that our city stays in the black and not go into a situation when they're in the red."

No final decisions were made at the meeting. There will be another study session at the May 6th council meeting.