Supervisors float new countywide sales tax for public safety, emergency, health services

Below see the Board Order from the Contra Costa County Supervisors that authorizes up to $45,000 for polling to determine voter preferences for a new countywide sales tax that would support public safety, emergency response, healthcare services, and other critical needs throughout the County.

Citing decreased property tax revenues caused by the real estate collapse during the Great Recession, the County says it has had to reduce funding to public safety, fire, and emergency medical services while demand for services remained the same or grew. The County claims that, despite a robust economic recovery touted by California Governor Brown and U.S. President Obama, real estate tax revenues have not yet returned enough funding to bring back services to a “needed level.”

The order also authorizes the County to work with its legislative representatives to smooth the way for the County to place a countywide sales tax measure on the ballot.

The proposed countywide sales tax comes on the heels of voters rejecting Measure C in West County to keep Doctor’s Hospital (Doctor’s Medical Center aka DMC) open. Hospital officials said they would vote to close the hospital if the tax did not pass. Providing 60 percent of emergency medical care in West County, the loss of DMC will severely impact emergency and health care services in West County and place enormous pressure on Kaiser Hospital in Richmond.

Additionally the proposed tax, if passed, would provide stop-gap fiat funding for ConFire, which has been struggling to make its numbers and service model work with insolvency closer than the horizon.

The Supervisors justify the proposed new countywide sales tax because voters in Santa Clara (2012) and San Mateo (2012) Counties have approved one-half-cent sales tax for similar either health, fire, or emergency services. They cite Alameda County that has had a tax dedicated to health services since 2004.

Increased tax revenues from such a countywide sales tax would go toward law enforcement and prosecution, fire and emergency medical services, and healthcare.

Contra Costa Board Order to Investigate New Sales Tax 2014

Contra Costa Board Order to Investigate New Sales Tax 2014


  1. Ted Hudacko says

    It’s not just the county supervisors shaking down the taxpayers. The Richmond City Council at its May meeting voted to produce an “informational sheet” to mail to all city voters touting the benefits of the upcoming ballot measure to implement a 0.5% sales tax increase. The council previously approved putting the measure on the Nov. ballot. The “informational” sheet of course is not “campaigning,” because that would be illegal.

    Possibly the most telling statement of the meeting was by council member Nat Bates who said, “We [the City Council] are entitled to this.” (Referring to the increase).

  2. Bruce R. Peterson says

    Hiring a consultant to find out how to word the tax, is always the first step for a tax increase. It’s 100% certain the tax will be on the ballot. They did not mention public pension liability. The 800 pound gorilla that is eating all public services.