Supe rethinks gross receipts tax

A gross receipts tax on The City’s largest businesses is “not ready for prime time,” according to the measure’s sponsor, since employers are being asked to start shelling out more money in another way — to fund health care for the uninsured.

Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin indicated that he might not move forward with legislation that would enact a 0.1 percent gross receipts business tax on top of the current payroll tax, which requires businesses to pay The City 1.5 percent of its payroll.

Peskin planned to seek board approval this month to put a measure on the Nov. 7 ballot that would ask voters to approve the new business tax. The tax would impact businesses pulling in $2 million a year — about 12 percent of The City’s businesses — and generate an estimated $55 million a year.

“Certainly you are seeing a softening in my position,” Peskin told The City’s Small Business Commission on Monday. “Given what is going on in the revolutionary discussion about health care in San Francisco, certainly I think one of these things should move forward and one of them perhaps is not ready for prime time.”

Mayor Gavin Newsom and Supervisor Tom Ammiano’s proposed health care ordinance would require employers to pay hundreds of dollars more a month to fund a health insurance program for uninsured employees and The City’s uninsured adults.

If Peskin decides to cancel plans for the measure, it would come to the relief of the business community, which largely came out in opposition to the proposed gross receipts tax, saying it cannot support yet another fee.

In the meantime, Peskin said he might push for an ordinance that would require businesses to begin reporting how much they pull in before taxes. “Requiring gross receipts information … gives us the kind of data which we need,” Peskin said.

IN OTHER ACTION

RECREATION AND PARK DEPARTMENT SLAMMED: Supervisor Sean Elsbernd criticized the Recreation and Park Department for allowing the Boathouse at Lake Merced to stand vacant and in disrepair for the last three years.

The boathouse “requires substantial renovation, and as time passes the cost of needed repairs increases,” the resolution said.

PLANNING COMMISSION FEE SCALED BACK: At the urging of Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, the board scaled back a proposed fee increase for residents who want to appeal a Planning Commission decision. The recommended fee increase was $200, for a total of $400. The board unanimously supported a $300 appeal fee.

HIGHER GREENS FEES APPROVED: Fee increases for playing golf at The City’s Harding and Fleming courses were approved in a 7-4 vote. On average, fees went up by $10.

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