Supes reject ballot measure to hike sales tax


The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors has rejected a proposal to put a quarter-cent sales tax hike on the November ballot.

The supervisors took the action in a 3-2 vote Tuesday (July 27).

Opposing the ballot measure were supervisors Carole Groom, Adrienne Tissier and Mark Church. Supervisors Rich Gordon and Rose Jacobs Gibson voted in favor of putting it on the ballot.

San Mateo County, along with Santa Clara County, has one of the higher sales taxes in the state with a rate of 9.25 percent.

Ms. Groom reasoned that the county needs more time to demonstrate that it has made sufficient cuts and that county services are actually in danger without a tax increase, Mr. Gordon said.

Ms. Tissier and Mr. Church "were more vocal in their comments that this was not the right time (for a tax increase), that the public won't accept it," Mr. Gordon said, adding that he doesn't disagree with their point.

In voting for a ballot measure, Mr. Gordon noted that the supervisors had agreed to a three-part deficit reduction plan: tax increases, labor give-backs and further cuts. This ballot measure, even if voters rejected it, would "start that conversation" about a tax increase, he said.

"I look down the road and I see where we financially are headed and we're moving toward a cliff," Mr. Gordon told The Almanac.

The county has a structural deficit of about $150 million over the next five years, he said. To meet expenses for the 2010-11 budget year, the county is using $90 million from reserves and making $36 million in cuts, with more cuts to come in 2011-12, he added.

"We don't have enough resources to continue putting $90 million in for more than a year or two," he said.

A tax measure can be put before the voters only in a general election when a supervisor is running for office, Mr. Gordon said. The next such election is in 2012.

Revenues from sales and property taxes in the county are flat and real estate transfer tax revenues are down, he said.

Another significant loss: statewide sales tax revenues, which are used to help counties pay for law enforcement, has seen "a huge decline," Mr. Gordon said, adding that the county used reserves and general fund money to backfill that loss.

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Like this comment
Posted by Mical Brenzel
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 28, 2010 at 12:50 pm

Perhaps our elected officials are FINALLY getting the message: we want spending cuts from government at all levels, not more taxes! Citizens have had to cut back on our personal spending during the economic downturn, and government should do likewise. Less than 1/3 of the county's structural deficit is being met by making spending cuts. Sorry, but that's not anywhere near good enough.

Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Jul 28, 2010 at 2:16 pm

The Right Call
Yesterday I spoke to the BOS during public comment on item 7...the Tax measure.
I asked them to please not put it on the ballot for several reasons, (1) They invested $35,000 for a study that showed if put on the ballot it would fail to pass. (2) The study was flawed because the 900 people questioned did not represent the current population of San Mateo County. I told them I thought it would be a waste of taxpayer time and money to put this on the ballot.

Daniel Kaul who ran for District 2 Supervisor also spoke and was opposed to the measure.

Don Horsley was there but made no comment on the subject

Like this comment
Posted by Harry Turner
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Jul 28, 2010 at 3:38 pm

The tax would have raised enough to pay for the payroll increase. Bad idea; didn't deserve to be approved.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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