Half Moon Bay to Explore Sales Tax Ballot Measure

City Manager directed by councilmembers to develop recommendation on specifics of potential increase.


Half Moon Bay residents may be voting on a sales tax increase for the second time in two years after the City Council voted last night to move forward on collecting information regarding such a measure.

"It was not a deciding vote to put it on the ballot," councilmember Marina Fraser said.

Councilmembers are scheduled to make the final decision on June 19 as whether to bring a sales tax measure to residents in November.

Two votes were taken on Tuesday night to prepare for the June decision.

With Fraser as the lone dissenter, councilmembers first voted 4-1 to direct City Clerk Siobhan Smith to begin preparing documents needed in time to place such a measure on the November ballot.

The documents are not to include a specific increase amount, nor a length of time that the proposed hike would be in effect, Fraser said.

"It can't come from us again," she said Wednesday afternoon, referring to the City Council-generated effort to place a on the Nov. 2010 ballot. If passed, the city's sales tax would have increased from 9.25 percent to 10.25 percent. Voters by a margin of just . 

Fraser said another reason why she voted no was her concern that there was not much time to communicate with city residents as to the reasons behind the effort to raise the sales tax, and that she felt it would take time to do the work to get the measure to pass.

"We need to raise revenue for capital improvement costs — to replace the , for sewers and for ," she said.

Councilmembers voted unanimously to direct City Manager Laura Snideman to prepare recommendations to the council about what the specifics might entail when putting the sales tax increase question up to voters.

Though Mayor Allan Alifano brought up the idea of a half-cent incremental increase at the meeting, the council did not hone in on what the exact amount of the increase could be, nor the length of time the tax could be in effect.

Councilmembers first raised the idea for a half-cent sales increase a few months ago during the city's unsuccessful effort to in downtown Half Moon Bay as a way to generate revenue. and to a series of meetings to voice their opposition. The council voted unanimously to the matter at a March 19 meeting.

Alifano has said that a half-cent increase — which would bring the sales tax up from 8.25 percent to 8.75 percent — is projected to bring in annual revenues of $700,000 to the city's general fund. That figure is based on a 2010 city staff report which estimated that a one-cent sales tax increase would raise $1.4 million a year, Fraser said.

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