DCNSCC Endorses Yes on Measure K
Return your ballot by March 5th, 2024.
Vote Yes on Measure K
Support Critical Revenue for Essential Services
Santa Cruz voters are being asked to consider a one-half cent sales tax increase to help fund essential County programs. At its January endorsement forum, members of the Democratic Club of North Santa Cruz County voted to endorse Measure K. Vote Yes on Measure K!
Why is Increased Funding Needed?
The County has been affected by seven federally declared disasters in the last six years. The 2023 winter storms alone cost the County as much as it collects in one year of revenue. While still waiting on nearly $70 million owed by FEMA, the County has had to foot much of the bill for the costs of addressing the CZU fire and subsequent storm damage. For example, the County paid to deploy Disaster Service Workers across the county to address safety hazards, provide emergency services, and staff emergency evacuation shelters; and the County paid contractors to fortify the Pajaro River and other infrastructure at risk of failure. The increased frequency and severity of natural disaster events due to climate change have wreaked havoc on the county budget and left the County struggling to manage the resulting cash flow challenges.
Without the additional revenue that Measure K would provide, infrastructure repairs will take longer and some services will have to be reduced. Of particular concern is the ability to fund:
essential County services (including those related to wildfire response, prevention, and recovery);
affordable housing to support essential workers and their families (including nurses, emergency responders, and teachers);
mental health crisis programs for children and vulnerable populations;
substance abuse programs;
road repairs and public safety works; and
programs to reduce homelessness.
If passed, it is expected that Measure K would bring approximately $10 million dollars to the County annually, and that about half of this will be paid by out-of-town visitors to Santa Cruz. While this is a drop in the bucket and will not solve the County’s overall revenue needs, it will ensure that the above essential services do not need to be cut.
Benefits for All Santa Cruz Residents
Whether one lives in an unincorporated area of Santa Cruz County, or within the limits of one of the various cities in Santa Cruz, all residents benefit from County and City government because we often travel between the areas to access services. For example, although only the County has a health department and superior court, residents living within the city limits are served by these. Similarly, cities budgets bear a larger proportion of the costs to develop the urban centers where many of us work and shop. Although Measure K would only affect the sales tax rate in the unincorporated areas, it would benefit all residents of the County.
Why a Sales Tax?
Why we are relying on sales and use taxes to address our local needs, rather than a more progressive form of taxation? Local governments used to be funded primarily from property taxes, but when Proposition 13 passed in 1978, property taxes moved under the purview of the State. Additionally, the State of California prevents local governments from passing income taxes. Consequently, local governments now largely rely on utility and sales taxes for income. But, as is true of current sales taxes, essential items (such as groceries, medicine, diapers, and feminine hygiene products) would be exempt from the tax.
Revenue raised from Measure K will go to the County’s General Fund, which allows the County some flexibility as to how the money is spent. The County’s budget is publicly available and open to comment at its annual budgetary hearings, which will take place in May this year.
Learn more at safehealthysantacruz.com