The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors is considering asking voters to approve a 1/8-cent sales tax increase in the upcoming Nov. 6 general election.
If county supes have their way, local residents will see the sales tax go up once again from 8.375 percent to 8.5 percent.
Supervisors are scheduled to review the issue during their Aug. 7 meeting.
If the tax increase is allowed by voters, revenues collected would total an estimated $500 million over 10 years, according to a press release issued by the county. The tax would go into effect April 1, 2013, and sunset in 10 years.
“The county must take steps to ensure its own destiny,” said Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors President George Shirakawa. “We have struggled for 10 consecutive years with substantial budget reductions to services and programs, and faced with uncertain funding from the state and federal government, we have to look to a sales tax to continue critical services to the community.”
Supervisor Dave Cortese added: “Moving forward with a one-eighth cent sales tax is the next logical step following tough choices we’ve made over the past few years. The County has established a willingness to be fiscally responsible, clearly demonstrated by the great strides we’ve made to tighten purse strings and the $75 million in concessions made by County employees.”
County Executive Jeffrey V. Smith said: “Right now, it’s unclear what state and federal government funding issues and the Supreme Court ruling on healthcare reform are going to do regarding services that are critical to our community.
"The question really is whether voters in Santa Clara County want to exercise self determination and ensure the current level of services or even increase services in a number of ways for the health and welfare of the community as it has demonstrated in the past.”
Los Gatos former mayor and council member Mike Wasserman, who serves on the Board of Supervisors, voted against the measure, whose first reading passed by 4-1 vote. “State and local taxes are already so high and I’m afraid that an additional tax burden could drive residents and businesses out of the area,” Wasserman said.
In its release, the county stated funds generated from the tax would be used for:
- Trauma and emergency services, including the Burn Center, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and a level I Trauma Center at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.
- Preventive health programs including prenatal care, pediatric care, obesity prevention, and diabetes care.
- Public safety services including fire and Sheriff.
- Economic development programs to support job creation in Santa Clara Valley.
- Disease prevention programs to stop the spread of tuberculosis, syphilis, HIV and other diseases.
- Housing for homeless children and families.
- Dental care, mental health, and drug and alcohol treatment.
- Emergency preparedness.