The San Benito County Board of Supervisors on March 8 were unable to come to a consensus on whether or not to add a sales tax measure to the November ballot, requesting more information on the county’s finances.
Among the concerns during the public forum, residents spoke out about the unclear guidelines of the tax measure such as who it will impact.
Estimates show the county would bring in an additional $3.3 million should the proposed one-percent sales tax measure pass. The deadline for the board to place the measure on the ballot is Aug. 12.
“To tax the public when the county is not providing enough as far as business opportunities along our roadways and competing with our northern and southern counties, I think the options need to be reconsidered,” San Juan Bautista resident Valerie Egland said. “I would definitely vote no.”
Residents during the meeting also questioned how much revenue the county truly needs and if the board is aware of the financial crisis many families are currently facing.
“It’s hard to believe that anyone out there would think that we don’t need more revenue,” Supervisor Bob Tiffany said. “I don’t understand if you don’t pay attention at all.”
Tiffany mentioned the lack of services for the county and poor road conditions, adding, “It’s not that we don’t want to improve our services, it’s because we don’t have the revenue.”
Supervisor Kollin Kosmicki mentioned that San Benito County is bringing in much less revenue than surrounding areas and said the county has been in a crisis for decades.
Supervisor Betsy Dirks suggested the board revisit the measure after going through the budgeting process. She said she understands some residents may be confused about revenue which is why she suggested the board “provide some real options for people.”
The board was split for the current measure proposal to be placed on the ballot. Supervisor Peter Hernandez seconded Dirks on her standpoint of showing residents how the additional revenue will be put to use for the county.
The goal of the March 8 meeting was to determine if the measure would be effective countywide or solely in the unincorporated areas. However, the board came to a consensus to set the measure aside for now until budgeting is looked at more in-depth to show the public where the county stands fiscally.
Sales tax, by the numbers
8.25%: Sales tax rate in unincorporated San Benito County
9.25%: Sales tax rate, City of Hollister
9%: Sales tax rate, City of San Juan Bautista
$3.34 million: Estimated revenue from additional 1% sales tax in San Benito County
$20,000-$30,000: Estimated election cost for local sales tax measure
Source: San Benito County