Majority of Santa Clara Co. Supes Favors Sales Tax Boost

At a time when health and social services needs are increasing because of COVID-19, the economic impact of the pandemic also is cutting into public resources that could meet these needs. For Santa Clara County, that impact could be more than $400 million less revenue in the new 2010-21 fiscal year from fees and sales and property taxes.

To avoid drastic cuts in services, a majority of the Board of Supervisors today endorsed a November ballot measure, seeking voter approval of a five-eighths of 1 percent sales tax. The current county sales tax rate is 9 percent.

“COVID-19 and the necessary actions taken by the county in response to it have created a temporary, drastic financial crisis that threatens not only our ability to fund the public health response to the pandemic in the months ahead but also our ability to adequately fund the basic safety net, and emergency and public safety services that residents rely upon during normal times,” wrote board President Cindy Chavez, who proposed the public vote on the additional sales tax.

Supervisors Dave Cortese and Susan Ellenberg supported the Chavez proposal, which directed county staff to come back to the board Aug. 6 with a proposed text of the sales tax measure. If the majority of the board continues to support the plan in August, it will be on the Nov. 3 ballot. Supervisors Joe Simitian and Mike Wasserman voted against taking this first step towards a sales tax boost.

The “five-eighths of one cent” sales tax would generate an estimated $250 million a year in new revenue “to ensure adequate funds to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, maintain essential services, and support critical priorities, for a period of 60 months,” wrote Cindy Chavez. The tax would expire in 2025, when it is assumed the country’s economy would have fully recovered.

The county last month approved a recommended budget as a carryover budget, with plans to convene budget hearings in August to address a projected deficit that “may be well over $400 million,” said Chavez in a statement.

County staff have indicated that they expect additional budget reductions will be necessary at quarterly intervals during the fiscal year. Additionally, the Office of the Assessor and the administration have further expressed that the 2020-21 fiscal year will be significantly impacted by lower property tax revenues.

Further reductions in the allocation of funds to the county from the State of California are also expected, which will further exacerbate the FY 2021-22 deficit, Chavez said.

In addition to funding necessary for COVID response functions, including provision of food and shelter, contact tracing, testing, and treatment of COVID-affected patients in the County’s health system, funds generated by this sales tax “will preserve the safety net services in the county,” Chavez said in a statement..

The safety net services include housing, behavioral health, foster youth support and additional services to immigrants and other impacted populations. This referral calls for a discussion and possible action at a special meeting of the Board of Supervisors no later than Aug. 6 to place a general tax measure calling for a sales tax of five-eighths of one cent on the Nov. 3, 2020 ballot.

Voter approval of any new countywide sales tax measure would be required pursuant to the California State Constitution, which requires a simple majority vote of all county voters if a tax is levied for general governmental purposes, i.e., a general tax.

“This tax is really focused on people who we want to serve,” Chavez told her fellow supervisor on Tuesday. The referendum would give the county “the opportunity for us to lean into the moment,” she said.

The supervisors also approved, on a unanimous vote, a COVID-19 communications plan to strengthen communications about COVID-19 for residents in underserved neighborhoods, partnering with community-based organizations.

The proposal by Cortese’s proposal aimed to ensure that residents in East San Jose are receiving information in a variety of languages delivered by representatives of organizations with whom they are familiar.

“While we’re trying to bridge the digital divide in disadvantaged areas, we know that social media and online communications leaves out thousands who urgently need the information but who don’t have a connection to the Internet or access to computers,” said Cortese in a statement. “They also tend to have jobs that cannot be done remotely and that put them out into the community where they are exposed to the virus.”

The county will contract with 25 to 30 organizations that will be able to use their networks in hard-to-reach communities. The contracts will be from three to six months, and will range from $5,000 to $10,000.

“It just makes sense to take advantage of networks that are already working among the County’s diverse populations,” Cortese said. “These residents live in areas that have been hardest hit by coronavirus.”

The Emergency Operations Center is seeking partnerships with community organizations from a broad range of disciplines including, but not limited to, the arts, culture, theatre and performance, health and nutrition, economic empowerment, youth, faith-based and service organizations.

They include African American Community Services Agency; Alum Rock Counseling Center; ConXion; Far East Dragon Lion Dance Association; Friends of Hue Foundation;  Gardner Health Services; Healing Grove; Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; International Children Assistance Network; Immigrant Resettlement and Cultural Center; Latino Business Council of Silicon Valley; Minority Business Consortium; Mountain View Day Worker Center of Mountain View; The Sí Se Puede! Collective that includes SOMOS Mayfair, Amigos De Guadalupe, Grail Family Services, the School of Arts and Culture and Veggielution; Story Road Business Association; Unity Care; Ujima; and the Vietnamese American Roundtable.

Cortese’s proposal was approved along with other outreach plans that include establishing a Community Health and Business Engagements Team, a unified county branding campaign and a multicultural arts campaign.

There is a one-time cost of $1.5 million over six months to add at least 67 Community Health Workers to provide outreach to businesses and individuals in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

16 Comments

  1. I am in favor of all these supervisors cutting the long useless and unnecessary employees currently on pay roll. Supervisors should cut their own staff’s pay roll. The local “non-profit” agencies should cut the Salary of their CEOs. Raymundo Espinoza, Gardner Family Care CEO makes more money a year than many in this county. His agency and himself have faced complaints for discriminatory behavior and practices. IT IS OBVIOUS SUPERVISORS ARE WORKING ON SECURING VOTES AT THE TAXPAYERS’ EXPENSE!

  2. It is highly irresponsible for Cindy Chavez and other supervisors to propose a sale tax increase in the very people who have lost theirs jobs or their hours have been reduced. They should propose a plan to increase the taxes of the tech companies not the people! CORPORATIONS ARE NOT PEOPLE! No tax breaks for them. The COVID-19 will hopefully get rid of some useless local non-profit and CEOs that care more about increasing their salaries!

  3. hahaha you progs and your diversity hires

    everything lands on the poors’ heads in California for good reasons

    you people vote for the wrong things and the wrong people

  4. San Jose Inside, we deserve a report about the executives and CEOs’ salaries of the above “non-profits.” Maybe cutting their salaries and benefits will pay for that money they are begging for. Most families are cutting their expenses not just hoping money will drop from heaven! It is time these agencies do the same. If they are not able to survive, others will take your place!

  5. No new taxes. Access the County’s rainy day fund.
    We have observed the government positions we can do without. Cut spending.

  6. Yep, nope! Why pay taxes for county employees not working. Stay at home and file for unemployment pay like the rest of us.

  7. First it was “FLATTEN THE CURVE” now it’s raise taxes. See a trend here?

    Look at this list of mouths we now have to feed:

    Alum Rock Counseling Center;
    ConXion;
    Far East Dragon Lion Dance Association;
    Friends of Hue Foundation;
    Gardner Health Services;
    Healing Grove;
    Hispanic Chamber of Commerce;
    International Children Assistance Network;
    Immigrant Resettlement and Cultural Center;
    Latino Business Council of Silicon Valley;
    Minority Business Consortium;
    Mountain View Day Worker Center of Mountain View;
    The Sí Se Puede!
    Collective that includes SOMOS Mayfair,
    Amigos De Guadalupe,
    Grail Family Services,
    the School of Arts and Culture and Veggielution;
    Story Road Business Association;
    Unity Care;
    Ujima;
    Vietnamese American Roundtable

    I DNK about you, but I tighten my belt for my family not so I support that list above. Hey Chevez, why don’t you balance the books instead of tax and spend? Oh right, it’s that buy votes thing.

  8. The County doesn’t have a revenue problem – it has a spending problem. Taxes are already way too high in CA and this is just piling on. If they keep this up we will reach a breaking point. With remote options many companies don’t need to be located here and that will have a domino effect across all industries and that includes government!

  9. As already pointed out: why raise taxes on the working class?

    Do you even realize those same people are fleeing the state in droves?

    Do you even care?

    I’m amazed that people keep electing these criminals, and then complain about our crappy roads, schools and crumbling infrastructure.

  10. > Majority of Santa Clara Co. Supes Favors Sales Tax Boost

    “Majority of Anteaters Favors More Ants”

    “Majority of Elephants Favors More Peanuts”

    “Majority of Sharks Favors More Swimmers”

  11. > As already pointed out: why raise taxes on the working class?

    Well, doesn’t the working class like to work? Isn’t that why they’re called “the working class”?

    It the supes raised taxes, the supes would have more fun spending money, and the working class would get to work more to pay the taxes.

    Sounds like a WIN-WIN.

  12. We, as the working class of Santa Clara County, WILL NOT STAND to have our cost of living raised even higher. We will not let you force a tax onto the communities that are SUFFERING THE MOST. Instead, we DEMAND that large corporations and the wealthy elite fund COVID relief efforts. WE WILL NOT STAND TO PAY MORE TO OUR CITIES WHEN OUR CITIES HAVE ABANDONED US. You welcome large corporations into our backyards to build so that the 1% may profit AT THE EXPENSE OF THOSE WITH THE LOWEST INCOMES! I understand we need more funding to repair the damage done to our economy, but you CANNOT force your working class to pay up. THEY are the ones upholding the foundation for the economy you are trying to save through sweat, blood, and tears. Furthermore, this tax will have a SIGNIFICANT effect on the livelihoods of BIPOC residents, as they hold most of these working-class jobs. If you pass this to move to ballot and it passes, we will not go silently. On THAT you can guarantee.

  13. Supervisor Chavez and Supervisor Cortese are pushing hard to get this tax on the ballot to guarantee their unrestrained free-flowing source of public taxpayer funds to the “safety-net” non-profits.

    I worked in contracting for the County of Santa Clara Procurement Department for over 28 years. I see these non-profits continue to have a stranglehold on the Office of the County Executive and the Board of Supervisors.

    Are these the same nonprofits that are awarded millions of general fund tax dollars in county Board contracts with informal or non-competitive bidding processes?

    Are these the same nonprofits who have gotten paid millions of our tax dollars in spite of often not meeting the performance measures/indicators set forth in contracts under-managed by county staff?

    Before we vote to increase our taxes to continue keeping these nonprofits afloat, a Grand Jury Investigation should answer these questions.

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