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Editorial: Yes on measures P and Q

 

Mountain View voters are set to weigh in on two tax initiatives on the Nov. 6 ballot that, if approved, would bring millions in new revenue to city coffers.

Dubbed the "Google tax," Measure P would update Mountain View's business license tax structure and rate for the first time since 1954, implementing a tiered tax system that would charge a headcount fee tied to the size of the business. (Currently, most companies pay license fees that amount to $34 annually.) Measure Q would establish a tax of up to 9 percent on cannabis sales in Mountain View. Both measures need a simple majority of "yes" votes to pass.

With no organized opposition and clear benefits from these measures, the Voice recommends a yes vote on both P and Q.

The Mountain View City Council voted unanimously in June to place Measure P on the November ballot. While all tax proceeds would go into the city's general fund, officials have said that 80 percent of the total revenue -- estimated at $6 million per year -- would be put toward sorely needed transportation improvements, such as the construction of an underpass at Rengstorff Avenue and upgrades to the downtown transit center. Another 10 percent would be spent on affordable housing.

Under the new system, all businesses earning more than $5,000 per year would pay a per-employee fee. The cost for most business licenses would also increase, as the flat fee for licenses would now cost $75.

The new headcount tax would target the city's biggest employers, not small businesses. A mom-and-pop shop with fewer than 25 workers would pay the $75 fee plus $5 per employee, On the opposite end of the spectrum, Google -- easily the city's largest employer with a workforce of 23,000 -- would pay a fee of $584,195 plus $150 per employee over 5,000, totaling about $3.2 million, according to the city's impartial analysis of Measure P.

The Bay Area's jobs-to-housing imbalance and its impacts -- worsening traffic, astronomical housing costs and strained transportation infrastructure -- have been widely reported. With big tech companies like Google largely behind Silicon Valley's job growth, it makes sense to ask them to help mitigate the effects of that growth. While some may argue Measure P could discourage businesses from growing or setting up shop in Mountain View, with office and retail space in high demand and the allure of Silicon Valley's startup culture it's unlikely the headcount tax would drive employers away in droves. Rather, it would be a greater risk to turn down the opportunity for significant tax revenue that would fund important transportation projects.

Measure Q also would generate new general fund revenue by establishing a tax of up to 9 percent on marijuana shop sales. The initiative has nothing to do with whether marijuana dispensaries should be allowed in city limits; the council, citing broad voter support for legalizing recreational marijuana, on Oct. 2 voted to allow up to four cannabis businesses in Mountain View. Rather, it would implement a tax on cannabis sales when marijuana retailers do set up shop.

The city estimates Measure Q could bring in roughly $1 million every year for general services, including public safety improvements and enforcement of cannabis regulations like buffer zones around schools. The tax would only apply to marijuana retailers' gross receipts and council members have the ability to lower the tax if it became too onerous.

These are both fair business tax measures that would significantly impact few employers while bringing in millions of dollars for the city. Vote yes on measures P and Q.

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Comments

101 people like this
Posted by Dan Waylonis
a resident of Jackson Park
on Oct 12, 2018 at 2:46 pm

Dan Waylonis is a registered user.

Ordinarily, the more workers a business has, there's en economy of scale and costs should drop. MV is following the State's lead where the largest or most profitable pay more. It sure sounds like Measure P would discourage businesses from adding additional workers.

Why should pot be charged an additional surcharge? It's a blatant revenue grab from the city.

No on P and Q.


3 people like this
Posted by Proud Taxpayer
a resident of another community
on Oct 12, 2018 at 2:52 pm

Proud Taxpayer is a registered user.

What is the city's percentage tax on alcohol and tobacco sales in Mountain View? I would expect it to be the same 9% proposed for cannabis. If it's different, please explain why.


106 people like this
Posted by Rossta
a resident of Waverly Park
on Oct 12, 2018 at 3:11 pm

Rossta is a registered user.

Seems a bit premature to start taxing cannabis when there is not even a single open dispensary. One of the primary benefits of legalizing pot, for those who won't be consuming it, is to have it displace the illegal trade. While availability will play some role in doing that, PRICE is going to be the key driver. Do you see a new, competing business ever open up and succeed without starting off by being price competitive? No. They start off cheaper, grow, drive out the established businesses, then bring their prices up later.
Throughout the state, the uptake on marijuana sales and tax revenue have lagged as much as 50% behind projections. Greedy government needs to pace themselves and wait until the market has grown before tapping into it.


6 people like this
Posted by Kyle
a resident of Monta Loma
on Oct 12, 2018 at 4:16 pm

The benefit of Measure P is that it allows the city to acquire financing for improvements now. Google donates a lot to the city, but you cannot take a loan without a guaranteed source of supporting revenue.


16 people like this
Posted by @Proud Taxpayer
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Oct 12, 2018 at 4:17 pm

There are federal taxes on tobacco products. Cannabis is illegal on federal level, so there is no pot taxes. I personally do not mind the local marijuana tax.


4 people like this
Posted by MtvResident
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 14, 2018 at 6:55 pm

MtvResident is a registered user.

I personally don't like to have pot dispensaries in my neighborhood. At least the city should make money from them, so Q sounds like a good idea. P sounds bad in theory (anti growth) but good in practice given the realities of google traffic. So yes on both Q and P seems like the way to go.


8 people like this
Posted by Keep the secret
a resident of Shoreline West
on Oct 14, 2018 at 8:27 pm

There are actually BALLOT ARGUMENTS against these measures. The Voice must have missed them - being in Palo Alto!


14 people like this
Posted by YES on Dispensaries = YES on Q
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 16, 2018 at 5:01 am

A yes vote on Q sends the clear message MV supports dispensaries as long as they benefit the city.

Vote YES on MV dispensaries, Vote YES on Q!


4 people like this
Posted by Jeremy Hoffman
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Oct 25, 2018 at 10:34 am

Jeremy Hoffman is a registered user.

I agree, and I'm voting Yes on P and Q!

Our City Council worked hard on these measures to make them fair and economically sound, not onerous business-killers.

It's obvious that our current flat business licensing fee isn't fair to small businesses.

More general funds will mean more of what we love about Mountain View.

The one thing we must be vigilant of is that future City Councils might go back to the pre-2014 attitude of zoning for more commercial development than residential and worsening our jobs-housing imbalance. Even with this new small revenue source from employers, we must continue to build housing to have a sustainable, stable, diverse community.


4 people like this
Posted by Jeremy is right
a resident of Gemello
on Oct 25, 2018 at 1:05 pm

Jeremy is right is a registered user.

Jeremy Hoffman wrote:

>The one thing we must be vigilant of is that future City Councils might go back to the pre-2014 attitude of zoning for more commercial development than residential and worsening our jobs-housing imbalance.<

The only way to make things better is to be able to house more people closer to their jobs. Regular contributors to Townsquare ALWAYS say no to candidates who are in office because people in office do things that change Mountain View from whatever fantasy world they would like to see. Unless you want more office buildings with more commuter traffic, you must vote for the two incumbents and Lucas Ramirez. Kamei is a shill for Abe-Koga, Hicks is a wild-card (seems to have good planning skills though, so that's cool) and Inks never saw a commercial building project he didn't like.

Yes on Measure P & Q to augment Mountain View's choices for self governance in the future.


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