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Countywide Tax Measures in Upcoming Election

June 5 election includes three tax initiatives to help balance the budget, but critics say the hikes would hurt the local community


On Tuesday Pacificans will have the opportunity to vote on three countywide ballot measures that would involve tax increases. Supporters of each initiative point to the county’s $28 million budget deficit as evidence of their necessity.

According to proponents, Measure T would raise $8 million annually by levying a 2.5% tax on car rental businesses in unincorporated areas: “San Mateo County residents must content with all of the traffic and pollution caused by vehicles transiting through our county....This measure simply allows local residents to derive a modest benefit in return.” Yet critics say that a tax on rental cars would threaten the security of the county’s 10,000 jobs at San Francisco Airport.

Measure U would raise the current tax on transient occupancy from 10% to 12%, and it would apply to any individual occupying a hotel room or other temporary lodging for 30 consecutive days. Proponents say that revenue from this increase will come from visitors to the area but will remain in San Mateo County, benefiting local communities. Yet opponents argue that Measure U would hurt tourism and decrease job security for workers in the hospitality industry.

Lastly, Measure X would levy a tax on operators of commercial parking facility businesses in unincorporated areas of the county. The tax would be 8% of gross receipts, and supporters say it would raise $5 million countywide.

Critics of all three measures question whether county officials would be held accountable for how the extra funds would be appropriated. “The County claims this will benefit police, fire, schools, but there’s nothing to hold them to it,” the rebuttal of Measure U states. “If we have to raise taxes, we should insist on controls to ensure the money is spent on what matters most.”

Each of these measures needs a majority vote to pass. For more information about the upcoming election, see the county's Voter Toolkit here. Check back next week for continued coverage of the election.

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ian butler June 01, 2012 at 02:23 PM
“If we have to raise taxes, we should insist on controls to ensure the money is spent on what matters most.” The reality is that any tax that is earmarked for a certain purpose, such as schools or police, requires a 2/3 majority to pass, while a tax for the general fund only needs 50% + 1.
David June 01, 2012 at 04:56 PM
The state is sitting on sooo much money and are NOT telling the people, CAFR1.com
Taylor Wiles June 01, 2012 at 07:08 PM
You're right, Ian. The school parcel tax for Jefferson Union High School District would fall into that 2/3 majority to pass category. Thanks for the comment.

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