“San Carlos residents OK with sales tax hike.” (Really?)

July 13, 2009



Sales Tax OK, not Utility Tax

The word coming out of the City Council of San Carlos is that they've heard the residents of San Carlos speak, and 61% of the residents support a hike in sales tax to help close the City's budget deficit….so says Mike Rosenberg's article in the San Mateo County Times.  The idea of a utility tax was proposed too, but more people responded favorably to an increase in sales, so that's the path the Council is choosing to go.

“Survey Says…”

I found this result to be somewhat surprising, because the poll that I'm currently running on this site says exactly the opposite.  For those of you reading this on a feed reader, here's the latest results of the White Oaks Blog poll:

Should San Carlos increase taxes to close the City budget deficit?

  • No. Increasing taxes is a bad idea. (63%, 77 Votes)
  • Yes. Everyone needs to chip in. (33%, 40 Votes)
  • I don't know (or don't care!) (4%, 6 Votes)

Total Voters: 123

I'll be the first to admit that my last name is not Gallup, and the response size is statistically small.  BUT…the poll I ran on Measure B had a similar participation level, and it correctly predicted the outcome of the Measure B election.   And note that the survey that the City of San Carlos conducted only included 300 registered voters, which is statistically on the same scale as this poll.

So who's right?

A 0.5% rate hike — the vote is tonight.

At tonight's meeting, the City Council of San Carlos will vote to put an initiative on the November 3 ballot which will increase sales tax in San Carlos by 0.5% to 9.75%.   If you feel strongly about this one way or the other, I highly recommend that you attend this meeting and voice your opinion.  According to the aforementioned article, it appears the Council already has the required “yes” votes to move forward.


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  1. fred on July 13, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    Unless I read it wrong, the two polls ask completely different questions — yours asks whether taxes should be raised at all, and theirs ask which tax should be raised (utility or sales). Their poll didn’t include the “none” option.

  2. Chuck on July 13, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    Hi Fred,

    I wasn’t part of the initial survey, so I don’t know exactly how the question was posed. You could certainly argue that the two questions are a bit different – but the point that’s clear here is that no matter what kind of tax initiative is put on the ballot in November, it’s going to face a significant uphill battle.

    Thanks for your comment..


  3. Bill on July 13, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    I was polled by phone about this tax and the questions were clearly biased toward getting a “yes” answer….scare tactics about cuts, etc. This is an old political tactic that uses specious polling to generate false positive results to convince the public to go along with the “majority”. I’m not buying it. Trust Chuck’s poll.

  4. K on July 13, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    I shouldn’t be surprised but I am. Sure 50 cents on every $100 purchase isn’t very much, but in these tight times I don’t think we should be squeezing consumers. Businesses in San Carlos should be attracting consumers instead of sending them elsewhere, any tax increase is a disincentive to shopping.

  5. torino on July 14, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    Should be interesting seeing that they need 2/3 to get the hike.. I don’t foresee them getting 66% of the vote on this one

  6. C on July 15, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    Actually the proposed Sales Tax Measure is a “general tax”. It only takes a majority vote – not a 2/3 vote.

  7. Jenny on September 22, 2009 at 3:19 am

    I am voting NO on this one!! The City of San Carlos needs to reduce salary, benefits & pensions like most of the other cities instead of asking us for a tax increase!! I know so many people in San Carlos who have lost their jobs or taken major pay cuts. It is absurd for the City to threaten us with park closures, etc. if we don’t pass this when their citizens have lost their jobs or taken major pay cuts. Shame on the city for even asking!

  8. Michael on September 24, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    You know, we just got nailed for $78 a year (I know, a mere pittance, but seniors cannot afford it) to protect our schools and I drive by Carlmont last week to see a new electronic signboard being installed and I have to wonder…how is this proitecting the education of our precious children and why is this necessary??

    Now they want us to pony up another 1/2% sales tax…for what? I just bought a new car and the 1% state increase we just got cost me almost $500. This proposed increase would have been another $250. People, 1/2% DOES make a difference and it is not clear what it is going to.

    Scare tactics about our basic services being in jeopardy are just that, scare tactics. Say No to ever more excessive taxes…we can’t trust our government with more money that we all know will be wasted and we will be asked for more just around the corner; Enough already!

  9. Seth on September 24, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    BTW, the $78 parcel tax that was just approved was for the San Carlos School District — the seven K-8 schools in San Carlos. Carlmont High School is in the Sequoia Union High School District and is not affected by that measure at all.

  10. Michael on September 25, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    Seth, point taken, but my reference to Carlmont HS is just that; I realize that it is not directly related to our recently imposed parcel tax, but you have to admit that the outcry for our school funding is universal in this state and NO district should be spending tax dollars on such frivolous luxuries. I would have to bet that the money could have been better spent on direct student benefits. Plus, they have just eliminated a form of student involvement (albeit minor), no longer needing students to change the old signboard.

    Why not start a fund to build a parking structure on the school property so we, as commuters, can get rid of the street parking and have our 2 lanes back on Alameda so we can get to work again without the gridlock we currently have.

    It’s just an example of poor judgement within every district when it comes to spending money, OUR money…and we seem to constantly be asked for more from every government entity.

    So when do I get to ask for money to fund my new BMW??

  11. Seth on September 25, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    Michael — frankly this is a difficult discussion to have on a blog, because your are confluencing a bunch of issues. I am personally not familiar with how the sign at Carlmont was done, and I suspect you aren’t either. It’s not as black and white as money being spent on a sign vs. something else. The sign could have been donated, could have been based on money raised by a non-profit, could be from a restricted form of money. I suggest you get the facts first before using it as a proof point for your argument.

    And the issue about the lanes on Alameda have absolutely nothing to do with any of this — although I agree that was a boneheaded move, that was done by the City of Belmont, and not related to Carlmont or the City of San Carlos (or related to taxes in any way — that was about traffic policy).

    I appreciate that you have a general distrust of government, but it’s all too easy to throw out a bunch of issues without context to argue against the San Carlos sales tax measure. I think that particular issue is pretty straight forward — what services do the citizens of San Carlos want, and how much are they willing to pay for it?

  12. Michael on September 26, 2009 at 12:08 am

    I know, I am all over the map,. I have been to the school and nobody in the office could tell me who paid for the sign and the principal was unavailable to speak to me.

    I am just frustrated that government’s first impulse seems to be to go take more money out of my pocket.

    What if laws on the books were actually enforced and people fined for breaking those laws? There are constant cars I see every day with expired tags, parked on public streets; there are people at every turn talking on their cell phones without hands free. There are more people with their headlights off than on when it rains. Many people still refuse to pick up after their dogs or abode by leash laws. My neighbor’s house that is being remodeled is a hazard and a constant source of loose trash all over the neighborhood.

    I actually saw a police officer take off after someone on a cellphone in their car today; he stopped them and let them go…I saw them, they were on their cellphone! Come on, we all know that it is easier to ignore the rules than enforce them.

    If there are no quotas for police officers, there should be.

    But I digress…the taxes we currently pay are meant to provide vital services; government cannot cut them out. So if the increased revenue is going to pay for additional “nice-to-haves”, I say no. We can do without them. Did San Carlos come to a halt when the SCOOT went away?

    I am VERY sure that if seniors under Prop 13 had to start paying their FAIR share, we would not need to look under every stone for spare change…Prop 13 is where the money is. That’s what we need to go after.

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