The recession is hitting all counties hard; this is not the time to further burden San Mateo County taxpayers with an unnecessary and regressive new sales tax that will inevitably fund an unnecessary new jail.
The sales tax ballot language obscures the main purpose of the added revenue. The Nov. 6 ballot statement uses buzz-word promises of more child support, fire protection, neighborhood health clinics and well down the list, maintaining adequate jail staffing.
The Board of Supervisors has already approved plans to build a jail that it does not have money for, and initial construction costs will account for more than half of the county’s $60 million budget increase this year. The new unneeded jail will cost more than $155 million (without overruns) to build and nearly $40 million a year to operate and cover new construction debt (non-voter approved).
The Board of Supervisors should cancel the new jail. Incarceration costs upward of $200 per day per prisoner. For nonviolent, non sexual offenders many well managed county jails use no-bail releases, supervised probation and inexpensive electronic home monitoring. All would greatly reduce overcrowding in our existing jail.
Virtually all county inmates are released back into our community. For maximum community safety, it is far better that we spend scarce dollars on rehabilitation programs and not on the construction and high operating cost of an unneeded new jail.
In reality, this new sales tax is just an unneeded jail tax. Vote no on Measure A.
The letter writer is the former county controller and a former member of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors.