Local agencies seek ballot bonds, taxes

At least six local agencies are considering putting tax and bond measures on a November ballot already heavy with billions in state finance measures.

The bevy of outstretched government hands won’t necessarily prompt taxpayers to snap their pocketbooks shut, however, according to public opinion experts.

San Mateo County, the cities of San Carlos, Burlingame and Menlo Park, the South County Fire Authority and the San Mateo Union High School District may all seek millions to close budget gaps and pay for costly storm drain systems, parks and school building improvements during the next several years.

These agencies will decide during the next month whether to move forward with an election, as the Aug. 11 deadline to place measures on the ballot looms.

The possible measures would sit on the same ballot as the state’s $37.3 billion package of four infrastructure bonds for transportation, schools, levee upgrades and affordable housing.

SA Opinion Research Executive Vice President Jon Kaufman, who recommended an approximately $43 million to $45 million bond for Burlingame based on phone survey results, said the significant voter turnout expected in November would probably have a greater effect on the outcome than the other items on the ballot.

“Competing measures can hurt, but they can also help,” Kaufman said. “If the Burlingame measure focuses on flood control, which it seems like it will, it ties in with the state effort to repair the levees.”

Brad Senden with the Center for Public Opinion, who advised the high school district on a possible bond measure, said that if tax and bond measures are local, they’re more likely to pass.

“The closer something is to your backyard, the more likely you are to pay attention to it,” Senden said.

Supervisor Jerry Hill said the county had to move forward with a one-eighth cent sales tax measure to keep parks and recreation thriving.

“It’s a minimal request with maximum benefits,” Hill said.

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