.Supervisors Approve Sales Tax For Ballot

Santa Cruz County Supervisors approved a half-cent sales tax for the March 5 ballot which, if residents approve it by a simple majority, will fund wildfire protection programs, as well as public safety, road and park improvements and other services.

The board on Tuesday unanimously agreed to bring the sales tax to voters, which would also be used for programs to help frontline workers such as teachers, first responders and nurses live in the county.

County officials estimate the tax—which applies to businesses in the unincorporated areas of the county—would generate $10 million in annual revenues.

It would not apply to “essential” services such as groceries, prescription medicine, diapers and feminine hygiene products.

The tax would bring the county’s 9% tax rate closer to that of its incorporated cities. Businesses in Watsonville and Scotts Valley charge 9.75%, while Santa Cruz charges 9.25%.

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Santa Cruz County only receives about $550 per resident in property and sales taxes. For comparison,  Santa Clara County gets almost $11,000 per resident from property tax revenue.

A handful of people spoke in opposition to the measure during the brief hearing.

The item was brought to the supervisors after the CZU fires and the storms from 2017 cost $242 million, a number equal to 115% of the county’s annual $210 million general fund revenue.

This story will be updated.

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Aiyana Moya
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