Local city tax proposals off the table

August 5, 2008 7:31:05 PM PDT
The Bay Area already pays some of the highest sales tax rates in the state. Sonoma, Marin and Napa counties all pay 7.75 cents on the dollar. Contra Costa, San Mateo, Santa Clara are at 8.25 percent. In San Francisco, you'll pay 8.5 percent, and Alameda has the highest sales tax in the state at 8.75 percent.

Some Bay Area cities have been considering increasing the local sales tax even further, but that idea may have disappeared.

A video that Lafayette officials call "Municipal Finance 101" was posted on YouTube. It describes how very little local governments get to keep of the money collected from property taxes and other sources.

"It's not readily apparent to everyone that there are restrictions on the uses of our funds. So we thought it was important to show that some money can be used for some purposes, and some money can only be used for others," says City Council member Carl Andury.

That's why leaders in Lafayette, San Carlos and Napa County all wanted to put sales tax measures on the November ballot to pay for things like road improvements -- but, not anymore.

On Tuesday morning in Napa County, supervisors tabled their sales tax initiative, now that Governor Schwarzenegger wants to do the same thing.

"The sort of final straw that broke the camel's back here was that the Governor announced he's seeking a one cent sales tax increase to be on the exact same ballot," says Jim Leddy of the Napa Co. Transportation Agency.

Lafayette and San Carlos shelved their sales tax measure too in recent days.

Larry Tramutola is a consultant to local governments wanting to pass tax initiatives.

"The beauty about the sales taxes in the local communities is that all that money stays local. Now the Governor's measure, that money's going to be taken from the local community and spread out to who know what statewide," says Larry Tramutola, a consultant to local governments wanting to pass tax initiatives.

Not everyone is giving up on a local sales tax increase. Marin and Sonoma counties plan to go ahead with their 1/2 cent proposal -- money that would be used to fund a new commuter train system.


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