Election Watch

April 30, 2012

Eagle-eyed reporters over at the Mercury News spotted a quiet little item on a recent San Mateo County Board of Supervisors agenda – three new taxes that will be put in front of voters in the upcoming election on June 5th.

Buried in the consent calendar (where governments, including our own Town government, sometimes like to slip pesky measures to increase regulations or raise taxes or do some other unpopular action), the three taxes are:

1) An increase in the transient occupancy tax “hotel tax” from the current 10% to 12%.
2) A tax on car rentals, where rental businesses would be required to pay 2.5% of their gross receipts to the County.
3) A tax on parking lots of 8%.

Altogether, these taxes will raise $13 million for our cash-strapped county and can be approved by a simple majority of voters.

The first two taxes are paid exclusively by visitors. It was suggested at the Board meeting that these measures would put a bite on tourism in San Mateo County, however small increases like these don’t have that effect particularly depending on the hotel costs in other communities and use of SFO will not be discouraged by these taxes. For an apparently unbiased study on hotel taxes see here.

These taxes join another measure that more directly impacts some Citizens of Woodside – a $67 parcel tax to help fund the Redwood City Elementary District, a District that educates many of our young’uns. The parcel tax would raise about $1.7 million for the schools in the District. Passage is uncertain, however since similar parcel taxes failed in 2009, 2005, and 1993.
More information on that measure can be found here.

One last bit of election news – three Supervisor seats (a majority of the Board) are up for election in June. However, two of the three (District 1 Supervisor Dave Pine, a Supervisor since 2011; and District 4 Supervisor since 2005 and current Board President Adrienne Tissier) are running unopposed. This year, District 4 (which includes Redwood City and Menlo Park) is up for grabs with current Supervisor Rose Jacobs Gibson termed out of office. Up to eight candidates are expected to vie for her seat, in an election that should be interesting to watch!

Woodside’s Supervisor, Don Horsly of District 3, isn’t up for re-election until 2014.

These issues remind us all why it is so important to vote. We’ll see you at the ballot box!

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