San Francisco voters rejected a half-cent sales tax hike Tuesday.
After the state Legislature failed to renew a one-cent sales tax earlier this year, consumers buying groceries or clothes in San Francisco might have noticed bills weren’t as high as they used to be. The sales tax rate dropped from 9.5 percent to 8.5 percent.
Mayor Ed Lee put the half-cent sales tax measure on the ballot with the support of the Board of Supervisors in order to make up for revenue loss from the state sales-tax reduction. It will raise the sales tax in The City to 9 percent on April 1.
The City has had to make deep cuts across the board to balance its $6.8 billion operating budget. It faces a budget deficit next fiscal year of about $400 million.
A half-cent sales tax generates about $60 million a year. Under the measure, the revenue would go to pay for rising costs of police and firefighter salaries, as well as public health and social services.
The half-cent sales tax was supported by the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, which said it would alleviate some of the impact the state’s budget crisis was having on vital city services.
The measure required a two-thirds majority to pass. This local half-cent tax would be eliminated if the state votes by Nov. 30 to raise the California sales tax by 1 percent, or to raise it by .75 percent by January 2016.
The measure was opposed by the local Libertarian Party and the San Francisco Republican Party, which argued that “more money does not lead to better services, but rather to greater waste” and that “It’s time that our elected officials learn to live within our means.”
Leading up to Election Day, San Francisco 8.5 percent sales tax was higher than the sales tax just over the Golden Gate in Sausalito, which has one at 8 percent. Further north, San Rafael’s sales tax is 8.5 percent. Over the Bay Bridge in Alameda County, the sales tax is 8.75 percent. It’s 8.25 percent in Daly City.