Business-tax hike unopposed

A lack of organized opposition to a business-license tax increase that has support from the city’s largest employer has city officials hopeful that Measure B, on ballots next month, will be passed by voters, for an additional $400,000 to $500,000 in annual income.

Measure B and Measure C, which seeks parking revenue from San Francisco International Airport, would be the city’s first business-targeted tax increases since 1976. All businesses are required to pay a maximum of $1,000 annually to operate in the city, Mayor Rich Garbarino said.

While the city’s budget has been balanced for four consecutive years with jobs and services still level, the revenue is needed to ensure services continue and help restore cuts made in the post-Sept. 11 economic downturn, Garbarino said.

The tax would increase business-tax fees from $5 per employee to $15 per employee starting in the beginning of January 2009. All businesses, regardless of size, pay a $75 annual fee. Genentech, the largest employer in South City, would see a jump estimated by the city and confirmed by Genentech as about $75,000 a year.

The next biggest hit is estimated at roughly $8,000, Garbarino said.

Though the tax only affects businesses in town, it still needs to be approved by a majority of the voters in South San Francisco.

Genentech has 10,760 employees working in its South City and Redwood City campuses, according to data from June 30. About 75 percent of those workers are at the South City office, spokeswoman Kim Nguyen-Gallagher said.

Though Garbarino acknowledged the company likely came here because of startup ease, he said most businesses have been supportive about paying their fare share. Genentech is credited, with other biotech and pharmaceutical companies for putting South City on the map, he contends.

“Most small businesses have one to three people, so the tax won’t end up hurting them,” Garbarino said.

Genentech is amenable to the increase, agreeing that it is a fair boost to its bill to operate in town, Nguyen-Gallagher said.

“Genentech is supportive of the measure,” Nguyen-Gallagher said. “We think it’s reasonable and we were brought in early in the process.”

tramroop@examiner.com

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