As the summer winds down this week, election season is ramping up, and the Twin Cities have a bevy of local races to watch on the Nov. 5 ballot.
While both Larkspur and Corte Madera have three City Council seats in play this year and the Larkspur-Corte Madera School District has six candidates vying for three open seats, each of the Twin Cities also has a half-cent sales tax hike proposal on the ballot. The nearly identical ballot measures call for a boost on their respective local sales tax rates to 9 percent.
The respective sales tax hikes seek to address some similar needs like street repairs and disaster preparedness, as well as some unique to each town. Corte Madera's measure specifically calls out safe routes to schools and senior and youth programs, Larkspur's language mentions police and fire protection, 9-1-1 response times and clearing flammable brush to prevent fires and improve emergency vehicle access.
The proposals are among four local ballot measures to increase sales taxes in Marin municipalities, along with San Rafael and San Anselmo. While San Anselmo's proposal would hike its sales tax rate to 9 percent, San Rafael's would boost its sales tax to 9.25 percent, the highest in Marin.
California's base sales tax rate is 7.5 percent. In 2004, Marin voters approved a half-cent sales tax increase to pay for transportation projects. Four years later, Marin voters approved a quarter-cent sales tax hike to pay for the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) train, pushing the countywide rate to 8.25 percent.
In the Nov. 6, 2012 election, Marin voters overwhelmingly backed a countywide quarter-cent sales tax increase, the latest resounding show of support for Marin's parks, open space and farmlands that dominate the county's geography. That pushed the countywide rate to 8.5 percent, with three other municipalities — San Rafael, Novato and Fairfax — each charging an additional .5 percent in sales tax.
Monday, Aug. 26 is the deadline for filing rebuttal arguments in opposition to measures on the Nov. 5 ballot. The board of the Marin United Taxpayers Association, the countywide organization that has opposed such tax hikes in the past, has not announced if they plan to oppose Measure B or C on the ballot.