LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Los Angeles' top budget adviser today recommended  going to voters with a half-cent sales tax hike to pay for street and sidewalk  repairs.

The proposed tax hike would be for 15 years and raise about $4.5 billion  for the ``Save Our Streets'' plan being pushed by City Councilmen Joe  Buscaino and Mitch Englander.

City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana said it would take an  estimated $3.86 billion to fix the ``city's worst streets'' and about $640  million to repair the ``city's worst sidewalks.''

The earliest the proposed tax hike could be put on the ballot is this  November.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which derives funding from  sales tax, also is considering asking voters to pay more, but not until 2016.

Santana's report, responding to 24 suggestions and instructions gleaned  in several public meetings, was prepared at the direction of Buscaino and  Englander.

The report, released today, is being made available at SOSLA.org., and a  public briefing on the plan is set for April 2 at City Hall, according to the  councilmen.

``Our streets form the backbone of our local transportation system,''  they said in a joint statement. ``Every visitor, every resident, and every  business owner uses our streets and our local economy is dependent upon the  ability to move people and goods throughout the city.''


               ``It is critically important that all stakeholders understand the  seriousness and importance of this issue, engage in the conversation, and work  cooperatively toward finding a solution,'' they said.

Englander and Buscaino said street maintenance had been under-funded  from 1950s the until the 1990s, resulting in the deterioration of 8,700 miles  of city streets.

The council members initially suggested a bond measure to fund the  street repairs, but opponents of the idea said the financial burden of fixing  city streets should not be placed solely on property owners.

Santana offered the sale tax alternative, saying it would be more  equitable and include taxes from ``those who do not live within the city.''