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Measure A's Passage Would Bump the County's Sales Tax Up One-Half Cent

Measure A, which would be in effect for 10 years, has the potential to raise as much as $60 million annually for the county's general fund. But would the tax increase negatively impact low-income residents?

A measure to increase San Mateo County's sales tax by one-half cent will go before voters in November.

Measure A, which would be in effect for 10 years, has the potential to raise as much as $60 million annually for the county's general fund, preventing further cuts to parks, emergency dispatch centers, preschool programs, fire prevention and the county's safety net of services for children, families and the poor, according to its supporters.

The measure's passage would bump the county's sales tax from 8.25 percent to 8.75 percent.

Opponents of Measure A, who include Occupy Redwood City, Californians United for a Responsible Budget, and the Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association, have called the sales tax increase a "jail tax," insinuating that the revenues raised would pay for building and operating the county's new jail.

"Nothing could be further from the truth," San Mateo County Supervisor Don Horsley said. "This is not a jail tax."

Horsley said Measure A funds would help preserve "the safety net for people who really need help" by bolstering services such as health care for low-income children, transportation for the disabled, emergency room services and library programs for children and teens.

"I don't want to see those services cut," Horsley said.

The Board of Supervisors has already enacted budget cuts to services totaling more than $50 million, eliminated more than 500 county positions and frozen staff salaries since 2008, Horsley said.

Still, diminishing funding from the state and a sluggish economy have left a hole in the county's budget that could jeopardize the well-being of everyone who benefits from county services, he said.

"It's a huge burden and a huge responsibility," Horsley said.

Julia Bott, executive director of the San Mateo County Parks Foundation, agreed.

"Our community needs the funding to be able to maintain the quality of life that we enjoy here in San Mateo County," Bott said.

The county currently has more than $100 million in deferred maintenance projects scattered throughout its park system, according to official tallies.

Measure A funds would be used to pay for some of those projects and prevent the county's vast outdoor spaces from falling into disrepair, Bott said.

"Parks are not a mandated service, but they are places where we exercise, where schools go, where seniors go," she said.

Supervisor Dave Pine, who was the only member of the Board of Supervisors to vote against putting Measure A on the ballot, said the tax increase has the potential to negatively impact low-income residents.

"We're hurting the people we're trying to serve," he said. "It's much harder for low-income people to absorb."

Measure A requires majority approval to pass.

— Bay City News

What do you think of Measure A?

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Lionel Emde October 19, 2012 at 04:02 PM
Of course Supervisor Pine is correct; sales taxes are regressive, falling most heavily on the working class. San Mateo County has embarked on a hugely expensive new jail without having the money to fully fund it. There are many questions about whether we even need a new jail, but the powers that be have quashed them, firing one consulting firm that started asking too many questions. I don't think the county is managing taxpayer's money well, I'm voting no on this one.
Raphael Sperry October 20, 2012 at 12:36 AM
As a member of the CURB coalition that is opposed to the tax, I would like to point out that we also strongly support the social services discussed in this article. However, the costs of building and operating the new jail roughly equal the amount of new revenue proposed: $150 million to build ($15 million/year for ten years), and $30-$40 million per year for operations. Cancelling the jail project would allow the county to provide the current level of services without the tax measure, so if there were no jail project there would be no need for the tax to provide services we all agree are necessary. Hence the jail tax. Voters should also note that the way the tax proposal is written, the money goes into the County general fund where the supervisors have full discretion on how to spend it -- any claims made during this campaign about what they will spend it on, like parks, have no legal force at all. What does have a legal claim on this money is the $150 million jail construction contract the supervisors recently approved and the future $30-40 million/year operating cost.
Michael G. Stogner October 21, 2012 at 01:12 AM
I don't think 4 of our Supervisors are managing and spending taxpayer's money well. Don Horsley recently approved a 3% raise to the Sheriff Deputies and an 11% raise to the Controller who didn't even ask for one. Service League of San Mateo County want this measure to pass, here is a link to their members. http://www.serviceleague.org/Board_of_Directors.html Notice that 4 Supervisors are members, they are the same 4 who placed this on the ballot. If you go to the County website you will see that they Do Not list this Non Profit as an organization they are members of. Why?
Michael G. Stogner October 23, 2012 at 05:52 PM
This is a man the residents of San Mateo County should listen to, he was our Controller who resigned shortly after our County Manager resigned after a 4 hr closed door session with our Supervisors. http://www.smdailyjournal.com/article_preview.php?type=opinions&title=Letter:%20No%20on%20Measure%20A&id=1756860 VOTE NO on Measure A

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