The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved spending $10,000 on polling to help determine whether voters would approve a half-cent general countywide sales tax measure if it is on the November election ballot.
The idea of a general services sales tax ballot measure has been under discussion since December as a way to raise money to fund county services including Health and Emergency Services, Safety Net Services, Housing and Early Childhood Services. Supervisors John Gioia and Karen Mitchoff are heading up a working group leading the effort.
Gioia said Tuesday that Contra Costa is the only Bay Area county that doesn't have a sales tax that supports county services.
Mariana Moore of the poverty-fighting group Ensuring Opportunity Campaign, and a member of the sales tax working group, told the supervisors Tuesday that the need for a sales tax has gotten more critical, with the county's finances stretched by the COVID-19 pandemic and expenses associated with medical treatment costs and tax revenue losses.
Helping Contra Costa County in this effort is a provision of State Senate Bill 1349, drafted by Sen. Steve Glazer (D-Orinda), that would authorize the county to impose a transactions and use tax of up to a half-cent "for general or specific purposes to support countywide programs."
Gioia said the working group has already completed a "needs assessment" for a potential sales tax, but wants more polling information before deciding whether to recommend a measure be placed on November's ballot.
Lucia Del Puppo, with the FM3 research firm that will do the polling, said the poll will be off 600 likely Contra Costa County voters. The polling could begin early next week, said Josh Anijar of the Contra Costa Central Labor Council, a member of the sales tax working group. The results, he said, could be ready a week later.
The Board of Supervisors would have to make a decision on the measure by early August to get it on the November ballot.