BY DAVE PRICE
DAILY POST EDITOR
The five-member San Mateo County Board of Supervisors is unsure whether to impose a package tax in the November ballot that would raise property taxes. So
they hired a political consultant who charges the county up to $200,000 to find out if voters want to pay more taxes.
A big problem is that the county doesn’t know exactly what the tax will fund. They talked about weeding to prevent fires, although other agencies are doing it now. And they talked about building sea walls because climate change theory predicts sea level rise. Burlingame and Menlo Park already do that, and it was supposed to have been funded by the county’s Measure K sales tax in 2016 We don’t know why they want the money, but they do.
They hired a consultant to see if a tax with an ill-defined goal would pass in November.
In devising new taxes, local officials don’t go out and talk to ordinary people. I guess they don’t want to be confronted with people who will tell them they’re crazy. So they hire a political adviser, who will always tell them that the tax will pass.
But if the five members of the Supervisory Board decided to go out on their own and knock on doors, they would hear that people – especially the home rich, cash poor – are struggling to pay their bills and they don’t think so. that the county manages the money very well.
Over the past year, inflation has increased and is now at its highest level in 40 years. The groceries and everything else in the store cost more. And gasoline is approaching $6 a gallon. High fuel prices have crushed small businesses that managed to survive forced Covid shutdowns. The latest US Census information shows residents are moving away.
Inflation and high gas prices have hammered the poor and the middle class. They have to pay a greater percentage of their income for gas and groceries, so when those prices go up, there’s less money for rent or for a kid’s college. The elites do not notice the increases. They take the Marie Antoinette approach: “If gas is too expensive for these struggling people, let them drive Teslas!”
Even if the economy was strong, this tax would be in trouble due to the county government’s wastefulness.
The most recent example was the revelation that someone from the county government left $10 million worth of Covid personal protective equipment in the rain at the Event Center. Apparently no one cared that the county wasted the money.
The county’s two-month investigation could not publicly identify the official who decided to move the PPE outside. Therefore, we have no way of knowing if the person who screwed up was fired or just received a poorly written letter in their personnel file.
Heads won’t roll, even after a $10 million fiasco.
The lesson for the county employees was that you can mess it up and the county supervisors will back you up. So it will happen again and again. The lesson for taxpayers is that you can’t trust the county to spend your money wisely.
People are aware of this waste, and the scandal will not dissipate until November.
However, this is not the only example of badly spent money.
The aforementioned Measure K passed in 2016 was advertised as a way to fund housing and 911 response. But after the election, the county announced that only $15 million of the annual $81 million the tax was to raise would actually go to housing.
Instead, supervisors decided to spend $700 million on new county government buildings and related computer equipment. Strange choice in a county where people slept (and still do) by roadsides and under bridges.
After an outcry, supervisors slightly increased the amount for housing. But they continued to prioritize the needs of the county’s well-paid employees.
Nice new meeting room
These Measure K funds will help pay for a lavish new meeting room for the five supervisors in a six-story, $151 million office building next to the current Government Center in downtown Redwood City.
When those plans were announced in 2018, supervisor David Canepa said county employee morale would increase with the new building.
You must be wondering how a new tax will affect the morale of a family trying to make ends meet.
Ah, let them eat cake!
The parcel tax will fail and bring down all candidates who support it. You don’t need a $200,000 consultant to tell you that.
Editor Dave Price’s column appears on Mondays. His email address is [email protected]