By Robert Haugh
We usually don’t watch the Board of Supervisors meetings. But the City Council is on break and the Board was dealing with a major issue so we tuned in. (Okay, it was because of boredom).
The Board was debating putting a 5/8th cent sales tax on the November ballot. Yikes.
The money would raise $250 million. It would go directly to the County’s general fund for the next five years.
The money would be used for COVID relief efforts, according to Board President Cindy Chavez. She was the major proponent for the tax.
But there would be no guarantees that it would be used for COVID expenditures. It could legally be used for existing County employees’ salaries and pensions.
The vote failed. It needed four votes to put it on the ballot.
Only three supervisors voted for it: Chavez, Supervisors Dave Cortese and Susan Ellenberg. In 2018, Ellenburg was elected to her first term and she represents Santa Clara on the Board.
Supervisors Joe Simitian and Mike Wasserman voted against it.
Ellenberg didn’t make a very strong case. She said that “we are obligated to step in and provide whatever additional support that we can.” But Ellenberg wasn’t very persuasive.
Simitian voted against the tax because of its “regressivity for working people, people who are lower-middle class, people who are struggling as we heard today who are out of work or who have reduced hours.”
Simitian said that the County’s budget in the last seven years has increased by 84 percent. Wow. He recommended reallocating resources.
Wasserman agreed with Simitian. “Right now, businesses and families and employees are having to make very tough choices with the dollars they have. The County is going to have to make very tough choices with the dollars that we have.”
So our sales tax remains at nine percent. If the Board had put the tax on the ballot and the voters approved it, we would have the highest sales tax in the state at 9.625 percent.
Maybe we should watch more Board meetings.