Four tax measures will appear on the June ballot in San Mateo County, asking for an increase in a variety of vehicle fees and a parcel levy. The following breakdown shows what voters can expect on the ballot and beyond, should the measures pass.
Business License Tax for Vehicle Rental Businesses
The county Board of Supervisors proposes to impose a 2.5 percent gross receipts tax on vehicle rental businesses in unincorporated portions of the Peninsula.
If approved, the measure will raise an estimated $7.75 million for the cash-strapped county, according to supporters. By placing a tax on vehicle rentals, the measure would not significantly impact county residents. It would only provide funding to “ensure San Mateo County remains an enjoyable place to live,” supporters said.
Opponents say it will greatly affect tourism, discouraging visitors from coming to the Peninsula. The measure has no expiration date and there is no evaluation of how the money would be spent—revenue would merely go into the general fund.
Transient Occupancy Tax
This tax would increase the rate charged to hotel operators in unincorporated areas of the county from 10 percent to 12 percent.
Supporters of the increase say the 2 percent hike would put the county on par with other municipalities. Foster City and Redwood City in 2011 raised their hotel taxes to 12 percent.
The county increase is estimated to raise an additional $200,000 per year.
Again, supporters cite the fact that visitors would mostly pay the tax increase, yet revenue would stay local.
Opponents say the money would not go to police, fire, parks or schools, giving county government leaders free rein to pay for “perks, salaries and pensions.”
The increase also could negatively affect tourism. An increase “in our hotel tax means fewer jobs and more problems for small businesses already facing tough times,” opponents say.
Parking Facility Operators Business License Tax
An 8 percent business license tax on parking facility operators in unincorporated county areas is expected to bring in $5 million if approved, according to supporters.
The tax would mostly affect parking facilities at San Francisco International Airport, which do not currently pay a tax to the county, supporters say. Proponents also say the county’s budget deficit, which will hit $28 million this year and possibly top $50 million by 2017, would benefit from such a measure because the funds could not be diverted by the state.
However, similar measures to increase parking facility taxes failed to gain support in 2008. The current measure, opponents say, will increase taxes and negatively affect workers and businesses near the airport.
Opponents also say costs would most likely be passed on to consumers through price increases for hotels, rental cars and airport parking.
Special Tax for Extended Police and Structural Fire Protection Services
The Board of Supervisors needs voter support for a tax it approved in February for police and fire protection services.
Property taxes would increase by $65 per parcel for the next four years, bringing in an estimated $92,000. Voters approved similar taxes in 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2007.
The special tax would extend police and fire services to unincorporated Highlands.
A petition to oppose the parcel tax measure was not filed with the county office of elections.