Election night brought a pleasant reversal of fortune for the counties of San Mateo and Santa Clara and the city of Half Moon Bay, each of which passed sales tax hikes after previous tax proposals were rejected by voters.
The successful measures will bring in about $60 million a year for San Mateo County and $875,000 for Half Moon Bay, a small coastal community that will now have the second-highest sales tax rate in the state. Santa Clara County's tax increase will generate about $50 million a year.
Santa Clara County's Measure A will institute a one-eighth-cent sales tax increase for 10 years. The county asked for a half-cent, 30-year increase in 2006 and was rebuffed by voters. But this year's slimmed-down proposal received 56 percent of the vote, with provisional ballots still to be counted.
Santa Clara County voters also passed a $548 million parcel tax to fund flood control, environmental cleanup and other water projects at the Santa Clara Valley Water District. Measure B received 73 percent of the vote.
San Mateo County got enthusiastic support for its own Measure A, a half-cent sales tax boost that will expire after 10 years. Voters in the June primary election narrowly approved a tax on car-rental companies in unincorporated parts of the county but shot down a hotel-tax hike and parking-lot tax in those same areas.
Supervisor Dave Pine said Measure A benefitted from sharing the November ballot with a presidential general
More than 80 percent of that money came from Seton Medical Center and its parent organization, Daughters of Charity Health System. The Daly City hospital could receive an estimated quarter of the money generated by the tax increase. County leaders claim the hospital serves 40 percent of the county's Medi-Cal recipients.
"Seton is a very important part of our health care plan for lower-income folks," said Supervisor Don Horsley.
With the passage of Measure A, the county's sales tax will amount to 8.75 cents per dollar, among the highest rates for California counties. That figure will jump to 9 cents because Gov. Jerry Brown's Proposition 30 also was blessed by voters.
Visitors and residents who spend money in Half Moon Bay will see even greater sums on their sales receipts. The town's rate of 9.5 cents on the dollar, including a quarter-cent boost courtesy of Proposition 30, will be tied with Union City and several other communities for second-highest among California cities, trailing only the rate of 10 cents in three cities in Los Angeles County, according to state Board of Equalization numbers.
Half Moon Bay Mayor Allan Alifano said the key to the passage of Measure J was lack of opposition from downtown business owners. City leaders reached an understanding with merchants after they revolted against a plan to install paid parking on Main Street.
"While the business owners weren't jumping up and down," Alifano said, "they weren't opposing it."
It was a different story in 2010, when the business community led the opposition to Measure K, which would have increased the sales tax a full cent for 10 years. Measure J will expire after just three years.
Meanwhile, citizens responded to the county's plea for money to fix the city's aging roads. The local economy has improved, Alifano added, and the city has made tough decisions to improve its budget.
"My personal feeling," the mayor said, "is I think the community is feeling a little better about the direction the city is heading in."
Staff writer Joshua Melvin contributed to this report. Contact Aaron Kinney at 650-348-4357. Follow him at Twitter.com/kinneytimes.