By declaring it an emergency, only a simple majority vote would be required for approval. But the mayor’s effort to place the measure on the ballot – along with the lower threshold for voter approval – could face harsh questioning. Councilmen Dennis Zine and Greig Smith said they question the urgency of the measure as well as whether it should include a higher voter-approval requirement. “I wonder why the mayor is suddenly seeking to declare an emergency when the city has known the tax was at risk for several months,” Smith said. The 15-member council must vote unanimously to declare an emergency and place the measure on the ballot. [email protected] (213) 978-0390160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! A proposal designed to maintain a telephone users tax on Los Angeles residents will get its first test today before the City Council. The communications industry has challenged the current tax as being illegal because voters never approved it as required under Proposition 218. Concerned that a judge could soon invalidate the tax – which brings in $270 million a year to city coffers – Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is proposing the city ask voters to approve a new tax of 9 percent – 1 percent less than the existing tax. On Tuesday, Villaraigosa released a report recommending the city take “emergency” action to place the telephone utility tax on the Feb. 5 ballot.