Supervisors approve half-cent sales tax measure for the November ballot

Alameda County Superivsor Wilma Chan, pictured last spring, is spearheading a countywide half-cent sales tax increase for the November ballot.

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors will ask residents already struggling during a pandemic and economic downturn to give more to fund essential services after voting Tuesday to place a countywide half-cent sales tax measure on the November ballot.

Alameda County beatThe ballot measure, introduced by Supervisor Wilma Chan, was unanimously supported by the board. A second and final reading of the resolution is on July 28.

Alameda County, like nearly every jurisdiction, large and small, expects a significant loss in revenues due to the shelter in place that began in mid-March and plummeting sales tax receipts that followed.

Chan envisions the half-cent sales tax bump to last for 10 years. She estimates the measure, if approved by voters on Nov. 3, will generate $150 million a year to go toward replenishing lost revenues intended for essential county services.

Alameda County’s current sales tax is 9.25 percent. The rate in some East Bay cities is higher. Alameda, San Leandro, and Hayward, for example, have 9.75 percent sales tax rates. Oakland and Berkeley’s is 9.25 percent.

Because the measure’s proceeds will be directed to the county’s general fund, only a simple majority of support is required for passage this fall.

Tax measures intended for specific purposes, for example, construction and maintenance of county hospital facilities, or public safety, require a more onerous two-thirds threshold for approval.