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HMB council to decide on new sales tax

Half-cent surcharge would go on November ballot

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Posted: Thursday, June 21, 2012 3:01 pm

Half Moon Bay leaders met late Tuesday to decide whether to bring a new sales tax increase before voters in November as a way to generate more money for local services.

The proposed measure would put a half-cent surcharge on local sales receipts, raising the city tax rate to 8.75 percent. That increase would provide $867,000 each year for Half Moon Bay, according to city estimates. The decision came at the council’s Tuesday night meeting, after the Review’s weekly deadline. Visit hmbreview.com for an update on the decision.

The new money is needed, city officials explain, because Half Moon Bay is drastically understaffed and lacking resources after three years of sweeping cuts. Over that period, the city eliminated 75 percent of its employees and outsourced its police and recreation services.

City leaders say those cost-saving measures have been largely successful. Earlier this month, city officials passed the first budget in years that didn’t require layoffs or cuts. While the city is meeting current operations needs, officials report the city will be $1 million short for its infrastructure projects planned for this fiscal year.

The proposed tax could last for three or five years, and it could be brought back to voters at a future date for renewal, according to the staff report.

The city’s last attempt to pass a sales tax failed by about 200 votes. That 2010 tax proposal, Measure K, would have raised the sales tax by one cent over seven years. Earlier this year, the City Council abandoned a proposal to charge for downtown parking as a way to raise revenue in the face of howls of protest from city business owners.

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