Measure K: Frequently Asked Questions
What is Measure K?
Measure K is a countywide half-cent sales tax extension passed by local voters in November 2016 to support essential County services and to maintain or replace critical facilities, providing local funds for local needs.
It is also known as the “San Mateo County Critical Services Measure.”
Measure K passed with 70.37 percent (206,910 votes) “yes” vs. 29.63 percent (87,117 votes) “no.” It extended an existing half-cent local sales tax passed in November 2012 (Measure A) for an additional 20 years, until March 31, 2043.
The question placed before voters was as follows:
“To ensure San Mateo County quality of life by retaining/improving critical facilities/services, such as: providing affordable homes for seniors, people with disabilities, veterans, families; enhancing public transit; combatting human trafficking; addressing sea level rise; maintaining safe schools and neighborhoods; high-quality preschool and reading programs; park maintenance; and low-income healthcare, shall San Mateo County extend the existing half-cent sales tax, without increasing the rate, providing $85,000,000 annually for 20 years that the State cannot take away?”
Read the full measure, plus arguments for and against.
In 2012, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors placed the original (Measure A) half-cent sales tax on the November ballot as a means of raising local funds for local needs. The decision to place a local tax measure on the ballot followed several years of budget cuts due to the recession and because of decreased or unpredictable funding from the state and federal governments.
The half-cent sales tax was listed as Measure A on the November 2012 ballot. (A randomized alphabet drawing is used to assign a letter to each measure on a ballot.)
The tax measure passed with 65.4 percent (169,661 votes) "yes" vs. 34.6 percent (89,788 votes) "no." It authorized the collection, starting on April 1, 2013, of a half-cent sales tax on taxable items through March 31, 2023.
Deciding to build on the progress being made with the local funds, the Board of Supervisors placed a 20-year extension of the sales tax on the November 2016 ballot, designated as Measure K in the randomized alphabet drawing. Measure K was overwhelmingly approved with 70.37 percent of the vote.
Why is Measure A now referred to as Measure K?
The Board of Supervisors and County Manager’s Office have rebranded programs, projects and services originally funded in whole or in part by Measure A as Measure K. The goals are to improve transparency and accountability and avoid confusion.
Who decides how Measure K funds are spent?
The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors must approve all requests for Measure K funding.
The Board considers funding requests from internal County departments (Health System, Human Services Agency, Department of Housing, for example), other government agencies (examples: San Mateo County Transit District, local cities, San Mateo County Resource Conservation District) and community-based/not-for-profit organizations (examples: StarVista, Peninsula Family Service, Samaritan House).
What can Measure K funds be used for?
Measure K provides limited-term funding to meet critical service needs, address service gaps or save money by improving performance. In the resolution placed before voters and in public statements, the Board of Supervisors has listed the following as priorities for Measure K funds:
Providing affordable homes for seniors, veterans, individuals with disabilities and families
Maintaining emergency operations and 9-1-1 police, fire and paramedic dispatch
Combatting human trafficking
Maintaining paratransit services for the elderly and individuals with disabilities
Maintaining preschool, after-school and library programs for children and teens
Keeping County parks open
Maintaining health care for low-income children, seniors and people with disabilities
Providing neighborhood health clinics
Maintaining countywide gang and drug task forces
Addressing the effects of sea level rise
Maintaining child abuse prevention programs
Is there taxpayer oversight?
Yes. In approving Measure A, voters required the appointment of a committee to oversee an annual audit of revenues. This continues under Measure K.
The Board has appointed 10 individuals, two from each supervisorial district, to an oversight committee. This committee meets in public at least twice a year and produces an annual report.
The Oversight Committee does not recommend funding priorities. Setting priorities and allocating funding is solely a function of the Board of Supervisors. The Committee does work with staff to develop and monitor the performance of Measure K-funded initiatives.
All funds generated by Measure K are placed in a special fund for tracking purposes. Each initiative supported by Measure K is placed in one of seven categories to help gauge the impact on the community. These categories are:
Public Safety; Health and Mental Health; Youth and Education; Housing and Homelessness; Parks and Environment; Older Adults and Veterans Services; Community Services.
How much does the sales tax raise?
Revenues are as follows:
Note: a half-cent sales tax adds 10 cents to a taxable purchase of $20. The additional tax on a $100 taxable purchase is 50 cents.
Prescription drugs and most groceries are exempt from sales tax.
What are the expenditures?
Expenditures are as follows:
How can my organization apply for Measure K funds?
Measure K funds are allocated in three ways: 1) through the County’s two-year budget cycle, 2) through mid-year adjustments to address emerging needs not anticipated at the time the budget was adopted, and 3) for one-time loans or grants to fill specific needs as recommended by a member of the Board of Supervisors.
The budget allocation process for the July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2021, budget cycle is now closed.
The Board of Supervisors also sets aside Measure K funds at the beginning of the two-year budget cycle to fill unanticipated needs and service gaps. The amount totals $7 million, or $1.4 million for each district. For more information about the availability of these funds, visit the Board’s website and contact your Supervisor.
The Board, at a public meeting, must approve every project, program or initiative funded in whole or in part with Measure K funds.
Where can I learn more?
The website http://cmo.smcgov.org/MeasureK contains information about Measure K. To view audited financial statements and annual reports, visit the Measure K Oversight Committee's official webpage at https://cmo.smcgov.org/measure-oversight-committee.
If you have any questions, contact Marshall Wilson, Measure K Communications Officer, at 650-363-4141 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.