We’ve been receiving lots of mailers against Measure Q that contain incorrect statements of its fiscal impact for San Benito County. The local Democratic Party says it would cause the county to lose $6.56 million annually “through 2035;” the No on Q campaign claims Measure Q would slash $17 million from schools and cost the county $30 million per year through 2050. These numbers are not supported by the county’s analysis.
The San Benito County Auditor’s Fiscal Analysis, on the county elections website (sbcvote.us), estimates that voting yes on Measure Q could indeed result in the county forgoing a net annual amount of $6.28 million in total tax revenue, but this amount is an estimated maximum, and it would not be reached until 2035. In contrast to the implication of the local Democratic Party, amounts in the years between now and 2035 would be far less, since any development would take years to complete.
For a sense of scale, that $6.28 million maximum represents about 2% of the current county budget (all funds—or about 6.3% of the general fund), and would be about 1% of the total 2035 County budget (all funds), if current budget trends continue. The key points are that voting for development now would not help with current budget issues, and that even in the future, the development Measure Q is trying to slow would not provide much of an increase to our funds.
As for the claims from the No on Q campaign—I’m not sure where their values come from, but their claims are not supported by any impartially produced analysis I have seen. The county Fiscal Analysis does estimate that Measure Q could result in the loss of a maximum of $37 million in impact fee revenue by 2035, including $800,000 for schools.
Impact fees are one-time, not annual, fees paid by developers to offset costs incurred from the development; it is important to note that these fees do not help cover existing county needs, but rather they are meant to pay for new needs related to the development, so there is no reason to consider that money as part of what we would forfeit with a passage of Measure Q. But even if we did consider it new money, this is far less than the values claimed by the No on Q literature.
It is unfortunate that this incorrect information was sent out. Voters have some decisions to make about the direction our county goes—whether we want to retain the rural, open feel of so much of it, or whether we want to try to cultivate more of a Gilroy/Santa Clara County sprawl development approach.
We need to be able to make those decisions based on fact-based, impartial estimates of their relative costs and benefits, rather than inaccurate ones. For me, retaining the rural nature of our county and giving voters a say in future development is well worth the estimated maximum of 1% of the future county’s total budget. I’m voting Yes on Q.
San Juan Bautista