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.

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.”

The original tax was passed by voters in November 2012 (assigned as Measure A on that ballot). Measure K extends the sales tax for 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?”

The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors placed Measure A on the ballot after facing several years of budget cuts due to the recession and decreased or unpredictable funding from the state and federal governments. They placed Measure K on the ballot to continue the progress being made with the sales tax revenues.

Why is Measure A now referred to as Measure K?

Ballot measures are assigned letters of the alphabet by the San Mateo County Elections Office. The proposed sales tax extension was designated as Measure K in a randomized, public drawing.

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:

Fiscal Year


July 1, 2012 – June 30, 2013


July 1, 2013 – June 30, 2014


July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015


July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016


July 1, 2016 - June 30, 2017


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?

The following table lists total expenditures of the sales tax funds by fiscal year and the working budget for longer-term projects.

FY 2013-14

FY 2014-15

FY 2015-16 Working Budget

FY 2015-16






For a detailed break out of expenditures by initiative and fiscal year, visit our Measure K Expenditures page.

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, 2017, through June 30, 2019, budget cycle is now closed.

The Board of Supervisors sets aside Measure K funds to fill unanticipated needs and service gaps in each of the five supervisorial districts. The amount totals $7 million for the County’s two-year budget cycle, or $1.4 million for each district.

The full Board, at a public meeting, must approve every project prior to funding. For more information about the availability of these funds, visit the Board’s website and contact your Supervisor.

Where can I learn more?

The website http://cmo.smcgov.org/MeasureK contains a comprehensive list of initiatives funded in whole or in part by Measure K.

If you have any questions, contact Marshall Wilson, Measure K Communications Officer, at 650-363-4141 or at mwilson@smcgov.org.