June 30, 2010, 01:01 AM By Michelle Durand, Daily Journal Staff
The Board of Supervisors is ready to ask voters in November for a
quarter-cent sales tax to annually raise $30 million toward the
structural deficit even as one member cautioned the request is too soon.
“I think November of this year is a little too early,” said
Supervisor Carole Groom.
Groom cast the sole dissenting vote.
Groom said there isn’t enough time to properly educate voters
about why the county needs the money. She also worried voters won’t
believe the county has no other option.
“We have not made enough serious cuts so that the people could
honestly say we are at bare bones,” Groom said.
But supervisors Mark Church and Rose Jacobs Gibson said there is a
sense of urgency. If the board doesn’t act in November for a general
sales tax, it must wait until 2012 when there is another supervisorial
election scheduled. The Board of Supervisors could also unanimously
declare a fiscal emergency
On Tuesday, the board asked staff to ready a resolution to place
the tax increase on the Nov. 2 ballot. The board must still pass the
resolution to make the ballot request official but yesterday’s direction
is a substantial step.
The community needs to know the tax is being given serious
consideration and will be discussed further before anything is set in
stone, said Board President Rich Gordon.
The public is most amenable to a five-year timeline, according
to Godbe Research, the consulting firm hired to analyze the possibility.
A phone survey and focus groups show that a sales tax simply
tests better than other suggestions such as taxes on rental cars or
parking, said Brian Godbe of Godbe Research.
County voters previously shot down taxes on parking and rental
cars at the San Francisco International Airport.
On Tuesday afternoon, the board heard from the consultants that
county residents are inclined to protect services but frankly aren’t
clear on how they are funded. Once they are educated, residents are more
likely to support a tax measure, they found.
Posted by Steve Sinai