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Smart Voter
San Mateo County, CA November 3, 2009 Election
Measure U
Sales Tax Proposal
City of San Carlos

Majority Approval Required

Fail: 3,022 / 43.2% Yes votes ...... 3,967 / 56.8% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Results as of Dec 29 12:09pm, 100.0% of Precincts Reporting (19/19)
27.8% Voter Turnout (77,340/277,759)
Information shown below: Impartial Analysis | Arguments |

City of San Carlos Vital Services Measure: To prevent further cuts and preserve funding for general city services, including fire protection, paramedic and 9-1-1- emergency response, police protection, and crime prevention; street repair and maintenance; and avoiding closure of parks and sports fields, shall the City of San Carlos adopt an ordinance enacting a one-half cent transactions and use tax (sales tax) for six years with independent annual audits and all funds staying local?

Impartial Analysis from the City Attorney, City of San Carlos
The measure proposes a local one half-cent Transactions and Use tax (sales tax) on purchases made in the City of San Carlos or assessed as allowed by law in addition to existing sales taxes. The additional one-half cent sales tax would commence April 1, 2010 and continue for six (6) consecutive years. An extension of this tax would require City Council action and a new vote of the public.

The proposed one-half cent sales tax is a general tax and as such, the funds received from the tax will be placed in the general fund of the City of San Carlos for City programs, general City functions, or in any manner allowed by law as directed by the City Council. Examples of such general fund expenditures could include police, fire services, street maintenance, parks and recreation programs, and capital improvements.

This initiative requires a majority vote (fifty percent plus one) to pass.

  Partisan Information

In Favor of Measure U

In Favor of Measure U
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Arguments For Measure U Arguments Against Measure U
Keep the "City of Good Living" a great place to live! Vote YES on Measure U!

Here's the situation. Since 2000, San Carlos has:

  • realized minimal revenue growth and a growing demand for services;

  • slashed its budget by reducing staff, benefits, and pension costs

  • deferred most capital and infrastructure projects

  • complied with, and paid for, all mandated state and federal programs

While we'll continue to be very diligent about expense control, we face deficits that budget cutting can't solve.

And to make a bad situation worse, the state will be dipping into our city coffers to the tune of $2.4 million this year alone.

It's important to note that when compared to other cities of similar size (Belmont, Menlo Park, Burlingame, Foster City), San Carlos:

  • has the lowest city staffing level

  • receives only 13% of your property taxes (the average of the four other cities is 20.2%)

  • has not enacted a revenue measure for 10 years

This initiative will add one half percent to the sales tax for 6 years. It will produce approximately $2.2 million in yearly revenue for San Carlos that cannot be shared by the state. And non-San Carlos residents will generate income for us as they shop and dine in town.

We all value our neighborhood parks, recreation programs, and police and fire departments. Without the revenue produced by Measure U, our emergency services, park quality, and recreation resources will be severely reduced. These facilities and services are critical contributors to our safety, quality of life, and property values.

Please keep our "City of Good Living" a great place to live. Vote for good! Vote YES on Measure U.

For additional information, please go to

/s/ Seth Rosenblatt, Member, San Carlos School Board

/s/ Scot Masters, Past President, GESC (Greater East San Carlos)

/s/ Barbara Billings, San Carlos community volunteer

/s/ Thomas Davids, Past Mayor and City Councilmember, City of San Carlos

/s/ Lind Teutschel, Chairperson, San Carlos Hometown Days and community volunteer

Rebuttal to Arguments For
The City of San Carlos' Mission Statement reads that they provide "high quality services and facilities in a fiscally sustainable manner." According to proponents of Measure U, that's how the City has been managed. "Since 2000, San Carlos has slashed its budget by reducing staff, benefits, and pension costs."

But over those nine years, while revenues have increased 3 percent annually on average, and operational costs have grown the same, salary and benefit costs have grown at 7 percent. Spending this way is not sustainable and the problem is obvious.

Now they want us to pay more so that we can pay more? Pay more in taxes to pay more in salaries and benefits?

Increasing the sales tax rate in San Carlos is not the solution. It is more likely to exacerbate the problem. Neighboring cities are not pursuing higher sales taxes, therefore, a higher tax in San Carlos may lead to fewer customers, fewer purchases, closed businesses, and reduced revenue.

The ongoing recession has had a negative impact on our local businesses, especially retailers and restaurants. We should be supporting this vital sector of our economy, not punishing it by imposing higher taxes on their sales.

We know the City has made budget cuts to a plan. But have city administrators or elected officials cut expenses where it's really needed? We don't believe so and placing a burden on our local businesses isn't the solution. Please vote NO on Measure U.

/s/ Matt Grocott

/s/ Janice Raymond

/s/ Dennis Werkmeister

/s/ Gary Young

/s/ Horst Jung

Taxes have outpaced inflation, decade after decade. We must draw a line in the sand, now.

No tax increase is affordable when added to the other taxes we pay.

  • property taxes (plus special assessments)

  • sales taxes (county and state)

  • income taxes (state and federal)

  • vehicle license fees & taxes

  • telecommunications taxes

  • additional excise taxes on alcohol, tobacco, gasoline, tires, etc.

How much is enough?

  • In 1960, the sales tax was only 3%.

  • Today it is 9.25% in all cities in San Mateo County.

  • Increasing that to nearly 10% in San Carlos would be crazy!

Raising taxes never stopped politicians from claiming they need more money. But higher taxes always make it harder for regular people to make ends meet. And some can't.

Retailers struggle to survive on razor-thin profit margins. Higher taxes won't help anybody, including city governments, if local businesses are forced to close their doors, due to unprofitability.

Please vote NO on the San Carlos sales tax increase.

/s/ Kevin Dempsey Peterson, Treasurer, Libertarian Party of San Mateo County

/s/ John J. Hickey

Rebuttal to Arguments Against
No one likes to pay taxes but we all use the services they support --- fire and police protection, parks, sewers, streets, maintenance, and Youth and Adult Community Centers.

San Carlos has not realized a revenue increase in 10 years, while our state funding and property tax revenue have dropped significantly. In 1978, San Carlos received 13 cents from the state for every dollar of property tax collected but now we receive only 11 cents. The status of our revenue stream is dire and essential services and programs are seriously at risk.

To be fiscally responsible, any tax increase must be preceded by assertive and sustained efforts to reduce expenses. The City has already cut over 30% of administrative costs and reduced public works by 19% and City Council's commitment to reducing expenses is ongoing and aggressive.

Measure U is a responsible and conservative request for funding to protect our services and maintain our safety and property values. It represents only a 50 cent assessment on a $100 purchase, generates revenue from non-residents who shop and dine in town, and expires in six years.

Economic times like this require us to come together and protect what we've worked hard to create. Measure U is endorsed by a diverse group of residents, small businesses, and the San Carlos Chamber of Commerce. It deserves your thoughtful consideration, not a knee-jerk reaction to taxes in general. Please support your community by voting YES on Measure U.

/s/ Mary Jo Hoffman, Vice Chair, General Plan Advisory Committee

/s/ Ronald Collins, Board Member, San Carlos Chamber of Commerce

/s/ Mike Aydelott, Past Chair, San CArlos Arts and Culture Commission

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Created: December 29, 2009 12:09 PST
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