Poll showed SF voters had favorable attitude toward new revenue measures

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By Rebecca Bowe

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Would you pay five cents more for this if it was going to fund local health care services?

So the city of San Francisco is staring down a $522 million deficit for next year. Does this mean local elected officials are seriously exploring options for new revenue measures? When we asked Board President David Chiu last week if new revenue options were in the cards for next year, he replied, “that has to be one part of the equation.”

David Metz, a partner in Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates, says he discovered that a majority of San Franciscans supported certain revenue-generating options after his firm was commissioned by the San Francisco Labor Council to conduct a poll. FMMM&A has conducted polls on hundreds of tax and bond measures since 1980, when the firm was established.

“There was a majority of support for a number of different options,” Metz told the Guardian. FMMM&A asked 600 “likely voters” in San Francisco in July if they would approve temporary tax increases that would be imposed for no more than three years to help prop up city services. Tossing out a few ideas for bringing in more money, this is what they found:

· 72 percent of respondents said they would support a nickel-per-drink tax on alcoholic beverages in bars, in order to bolster city health-care services. 27 percent were opposed.

· 58 percent said they would vote for an increase in tax charges to hotel / motel guests. 37 percent said nay.

· 60 percent said they’d support a temporary half-cent sales tax increase. 38 percent opposed it.

· 53 percent said they’d support a 2 percent, temporary tax on the value of cars registered in San Francisco, while 44 percent said they’d reject it.

The pollsters may or may not have posed additional revenue-related questions to voters, as Metz indicated in response to our question that these results are the only ones he is authorized to share with the public.

According to Metz, a simple majority of votes at the ballot is required for general tax increases in San Francisco, while a two-thirds majority vote is required when revenues would be funneled into a particular program or service, as is the case with the conceptual five-cent alcoholic beverage tax. So according to these polling numbers, these four measures could’ve cleared the necessary hurdles in November. Did any of them make it onto the ballot? Negative. There might be a different story next time around.

Sup. Chris Daly told the Guardian yesterday that there are ongoing discussions about the city’s options with regard to new revenue measures, but no specific proposals are on the table at the moment. He added that with a statewide general election coming up next November, placing new tax measures on the ballot then is more likely than in June.

Comments

Ever thought that our budget nightmare may have resulted from bloated spending? Here's the data:

San Francisco’s city budget grew 70 percent between 1995 and 2003 and again from 2005-20008, three times faster than inflation.

The city now has more than 31,000 employees, an increase of almost 30 percent from 1995. Population growth over this period: 3%.

As usual, the police dept. is the worst culprit in the overtime addiction dept:

Police protection per resident:
Washington
SAN FRANCISCO
Boston
New York City
Chicago
Detroit
Philadelphia
Los Angeles
Houston
San Diego
Dallas
Phoenix
San Antonio
$526.63
$375.35-SF is Numero Dos!
$294.18
$272.55
$244.56
$191.45
$184.44
$177.53
$168.33
$137.24
$281.52

Posted by Barton on Dec. 03, 2009 @ 11:28 am

Barton look no farther than...

http://sfpl.lib.ca.us/librarylocations/main/gic/sfballot09.idc?id=1677

Idle hands are the devils playthings, and look who we have got over that time.

------

San Francisco Ballot Propositions Database

1907 to the present
Search results:

* ID: 1677
* Proposition: J
* Title: Supervisors Salaries
* Date: 11/05/2002
* Vote Count: Yes: 111,646 No: 89,351
* Percentage of votes: Yes: 55.55% No: 44.45%
* Percentage of votes required to pass: 50%+1
* Pass or Fail: P
* How it was placed on the ballot: Board of Supervisors
* Kind: Charter Amendment
* Description: Shall members of the Board of Supervisors serve full-time and shall the Civil Service Commission set the salaries for Supervisors?

Posted by glen matlock on Dec. 03, 2009 @ 11:23 am

Barton look no farther than...

http://sfpl.lib.ca.us/librarylocations/main/gic/sfballot09.idc?id=1677

Idle hands are the devils playthings, and look who we have got over that time.

------

San Francisco Ballot Propositions Database

1907 to the present
Search results:

* ID: 1677
* Proposition: J
* Title: Supervisors Salaries
* Date: 11/05/2002
* Vote Count: Yes: 111,646 No: 89,351
* Percentage of votes: Yes: 55.55% No: 44.45%
* Percentage of votes required to pass: 50%+1
* Pass or Fail: P
* How it was placed on the ballot: Board of Supervisors
* Kind: Charter Amendment
* Description: Shall members of the Board of Supervisors serve full-time and shall the Civil Service Commission set the salaries for Supervisors?

Posted by glen matlock on Dec. 03, 2009 @ 11:41 am

Marc has a point about regressive taxation. The only ones I really like are the car tax and the hotel tax, because those fall on the wealthier residents (and non-residents).

And this whole notion of sin taxes is a throwback to another century (like the 19th). Why a tax on alcohol? Why not a tax on hair gel, or patio furniture, or new puppies?

That said, the city is hurting, and we don't have many options. If it's between taxes and cuts to services (and using law enforcement for revenue-generation, another perennial favorite), I'll take taxes.

Greg

Posted by Greg Kamin on Dec. 03, 2009 @ 9:56 am

The Guardian should set an example and ask for Pete Wilson's free newspaper tax that the Guardian howled about back in the 90's.

If the Guardian just figured what the tax would be and gave it to the city now, the Guardian's harping now would be a bit more credible.

The interesting thing here is that the cities progressives are utterly untrustworthy and any supposed three year tax would be with us forever, then next recession they would just dream up some new scheme to pay for their "values".

Posted by glen matlock on Dec. 01, 2009 @ 5:00 pm

I think it's clear the proposed taxes are temporary. As the article states "if they would approve temporary tax increases that would be imposed for no more than three years to help prop up city services." So your concern, "any supposed three year tax would be with us forever" is clearly mitigated by that fact.

It's absurd for the citizenry to act as if revenue decreases, whether applied to federal, state or local government, can be mitigated by cuts to services alone. At a certain point rationality dictates we discard right-wing rhetoric from the past and move on to new sources of funding our governmental resources.

We've reached that point.

Posted by Lucretia the Troll on Dec. 01, 2009 @ 11:34 pm

If there were a sunset provision in the increases which could only be overturned by a 2/3 super-majority of the voters then I would support increasing revenue through these means. I'd also support the same thing on a state-wide basis because the cuts to the UC system are destroying one of the linchpins of California's prosperity.

Posted by Lucretia the Troll on Dec. 02, 2009 @ 9:49 am

Can we at least cut regressive taxes out of the mix?

Not everyone is hurting equally during these tough times, and I'm not seeing much in the proposed tax mix that reflects that disparity.

72% support for a dedicated alcohol tax fails, not high enough to sustain 2/3.

We should look at reforming our business tax system first so that we have a firmer, broader tax base:

http://www.fogcityjournal.com/wordpress/2009/11/30/business-taxes-should...

-marc

Posted by marcos on Dec. 02, 2009 @ 6:09 am

Lucreta,

Glen's point is that OF COURSE they will say that the tax will be temporary. But experience shows again and again that once the pols have a new honeypot to gorge on, that the temporary tax somehow never quite goes away.

Several of the major Federal taxes were introduced temporarily, typically during wars, never to go away again.

The real reason for the deficit is the poor economy. And raising taxes in a recession is against every economic axiom since Keynes. We need to be encouraging business in the city, and not raising taxes on a decreasing tax base of people and businesses who can easily move a few miles.

Posted by tomfoolery on Dec. 02, 2009 @ 8:02 am

I wouldn't have a problem with a temporary tax, and would be fine with it, but seldom are these things let go by the progressives in this city. Who would have thought that 40 years ago the live and let live left would be forcing recycling on the citizens? Watching as the progressives hem and haw over Sharps Park report from last month and their bitterness by not prevailing with the home team...

It isn't reflexive ideology but the history of the progressives themselves that makes them untrustworthy.

Posted by glen matlock on Dec. 02, 2009 @ 7:53 am