REDWOOD CITY -- In early returns voters are backing Measure A, which would push sales tax up one-half cent for the next 10 years in San Mateo County.

With over half of ballots counted, the measure had grabbed about 63 percent of voter.

Though voters rejected two tax increases on the June ballot, politicians hungry for more revenue hope the electorate will get behind the Measure A half-cent sales tax hike. They have called it a means to protect county services from budget cuts.

Despite not having a designated purpose, officials suggest the $60 million a year in new revenue could be used for child abuse prevention, fire prevention and park operations.

Opponents argue that instead of raising taxes, county leaders should cut pension expenses and employee compensation. Activists fighting the county's proposed $155 million jail have referred to it as a "jail tax," though officials say that's not true.

Most of the funding for Measure A's campaign has come from the parent organization of a hospital that could benefit from the tax hike. Seton Medical Center could see "substantial funding" for seismic upgrades if the measure passes. According to finance reports, the hospital's oversight organization, Daughters of Charity Health System, provided about 90 percent of the campaign's cash.

Contact Joshua Melvin at 650-348-4335. Follow him at Twitter.com/melvinreport.



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