Economy Election 2024 Local News 

Proposed Sales Tax Increase for Unincorporated Santa Cruz County

Measure slated for the March 5, 2024 Primary Election.

In a move to bridge a shortfall in the Proposed Budget for Fiscal Year 2023-24 passed by the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors in June, the Board voted unanimously on Tuesday, December 5, 2023 to place a half-cent sales tax measure on the March 5, 2024 Primary Election ballot. The proposed sales tax would apply only to unincorporated areas of the county: Zayante, Felton, Ben Lomond, Brookdale, Boulder Creek, Bonny Doon, and Davenport are located in unincorporated Santa Cruz County, as are Aptos, Corralitos, Freedom, La Selva Beach, Rio Del Mar, and Soquel. These areas currently have a 9% sales tax rate. By comparison, businesses in the city of Santa Cruz charge 9.25% sales tax, while Scotts Valley and Watsonville charge 9.75%.

The proposed sales tax increase is expected to generate $10 million in annual revenue toward the county’s annual $210 million general fund purportedly to provide community services such as:

• Wildfire, flood and other disaster response, prevention, and recovery services
• Affordable housing and homelessness programs
• Mental health, crisis services, and substance disorder treatment
• Roads maintenance, park improvements, and public safety

“Santa Cruz County provides municipal services to more than half of the County population living in the unincorporated area,” the County of Santa Cruz said in a statement on Tuesday, “and delivers public safety, health, human and other mandated services countywide. It also receives just 13 percent of local property tax dollars, making it significantly underfunded compared to peer counties throughout California.”

Learn more about this measure and the issues and candidates on the ballot in the March 5, 2024 Primary Election:

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