County may ask voters
to raise sales tax
The county wants your half-cent's worth of opinion on whether to increase the sales tax. After the failure of two tax increases during the June election — only a tax on car rentals passed, by a bare 197 votes — the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors finds itself confronting the same budget deficit with fewer options.
The proposed ordinance, if approved by voters, would raise the sales tax by a half-cent per dollar to 8.75 percent for 10 years. The increase is projected to add about $60 million a year to the county's general fund, according to a memo from supervisors Adrienne Tissier and Don Horsley.
Mr. Horsley said he would support the increase even if all three tax measures had passed in June. "If you look back on my campaign for the Board, I said that I supported an extension of the State's 1 percent sales tax that expired in June of 2011. That is no longer possible but the proposal that Supervisor Tissier and I are sponsoring is the right thing to do to maintain County services."
The board would get to decide how to spend the money since the tax goes into the general fund. The memo suggests possibly assisting county hospitals to stay in business. It lists Seton Medical Center as an example; the 357-bed Daly City facility must complete seismic safety improvements by 2020 to remain open. The memo states Seton handles 19 percent of admissions, 34 percent of doctor visits and contributes to long-term care for people on the county's health plan and Medi-Cal.
"There is significant concern about other providers' capacity and ability to fill Seton's role in promoting the health of the community if Seton were to close," the memo said.
The Board of Supervisors will decide on Tuesday, July 24, whether to place the tax increase on the November ballot. The meeting starts at 9 a.m. at 400 County Center in Redwood City.