Board of Supervisors Aim to Raise Sales Tax

The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors are asking residents will be voting in November whether to increase sales tax by half a cent, for a period of 10 years.

The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors proposed an ordinance to increase sales tax countywide by half a cent for a period of 10 years during its Tuesday meeting.

The proposal will appear on the November 6 ballot.

Proceeds from the tax, which would apply to all retail and general use transactions, would go toward increasing the County's general fund.

"The demand for essential San Mateo County services and facilities continues to exceed available resources, and while the County has made significant progress in reducing costs and in eliminating its structural deficit, without additional revenue, the County will be unable to continue providing these services and facilities," the supervisors wrote in documents supporting the proposal, which are attached in the photo section as a PDF.

The documents indicate the Board of Supervisors would "retain complete discretion regarding the use of the proceeds of the tax," saying only that the funds would be used "to raise revenues for general fund purposes."

The documents offer some theoretical examples of uses for the funds.

"The Board of Supervisors might, in the future, choose to use a portion of the revenues to assist hospitals in the County to remain open and available to County residents, including by potentially assisting Seton Medical Center to ensure the seismic safety of its facilities," the document indicates, further explaining that, if Seton does not upgrade its facilities by 2020, it will be forced to close.

If it passes election, the earliest date the increased tax can begin being collected is April 1, 2013.

The measure would take the County's base sales tax up from 8.25 percent to 8.75 percent.

The tax will apply to both incorporated and unincorporated areas of San Mateo County, with the possible exceptions of San Mateo and Half Moon Bay. 

Half Moon Bay is already proposing a half-cent sales tax of its own on the Nov. 6 ballot, meaning the two increases would take Half Moon Bay's total sales tax up to 9.25 percent.

San Mateo already has its own quarter-cent sales tax, meaning the countywide increase would take San Mateo's total sales tax up to 9.0 percent.

The Board of Supervisors says, if approved, the increased sales tax is expected to generate an additional $60 million in general use funds each year for the proposed 10 years.

To add this measure to the ballot will cost approximately $40,000.

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