Frequently Asked Questions

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Redwood City residents express that safe neighborhoods, well-maintained parks, quality libraries and after school programs all contribute to our high quality of life.

Redwood City is currently facing a growing annual budget deficit, which is projected to reach more than $12 million annually in five years and continue to increase each subsequent year. A deficit of this magnitude will require significant cuts to public safety services, which comprise 60% of our annual budget. This could include reductions to police, fire and paramedics, which could lead to slower 911 emergency response times.

The City is evaluating options for enhancing locally controlled revenues. One option is to place a measure on the ballot to increase our local sales tax rate, which would provide locally controlled funding that could not be taken away by the State and could support essential City services, such as:

  • Protecting the safety of Redwood City residents
  • Maintaining rapid 911 emergency response times
  • Supporting police, fire and paramedic services
  • Continuing library hours
  • Continuing after-school and recreation programs that keep kids safe 

On July 23, City Council considered a ballot measure levying a one-half of one percent sales tax (the City of Redwood City Essential Services Protection Measure) for general purposes, subject to voter approval. Council voted that this measure will be placed on the November 2018 ballot. Learn more from the documents and recorded presentation below.

Staff Report

Attachment A: Revenue Options

Attachment B: Budget Reductions Summary

July 23, 2018 Ballot Measure Presentation

For other background documents and information go here.

  • Budget Background

    • Could the City balance the budget by not building new parks or other capital projects?

    • Could the State cut or take sales tax funding?

    • Did revenues exceed expenditures in FY 2017-18?

    • Does the City have a budget surplus?

    • How did the City get into this financial situation?

    • How do outside experts view the City’s financial practices?

    • How is the City developing a local solution to its funding needs?

    • How would a local funding measure help protect essential City services?

    • How would this structural deficit affect city services, safety and quality of life?

    • If the City does not secure an additional source of revenue, what City services will be cut?

    • What is the City of Redwood City Essential Services Protection Measure?

    • What is the current state of Redwood City’s budget?

    • Why does Redwood City face a structural budget deficit?

  • Pensions

    • Are City employees in Social Security?

    • Are other cities facing pension cost increases?

    • Could the City offer employees 401k plans instead of pensions?

    • How has the City determined future pension costs?

    • How many employees are in each of the City’s different pension tiers?

    • How much do employees pay towards their pension?

    • What are current City employee pension benefits?

    • What has the City done to address pension costs?

    • What percent of the City budget goes to paying employee pensions?

  • Sales Tax

    • Do sales tax measures affect essential purchases like groceries and medicine?

    • How much sales tax does the city receive from online purchases versus a “brick and mortar” storefront located in the City limits?

    • How much would a sales tax measure cost?

    • What is Redwood City’s current sales tax?

    • What other cities in San Mateo County have recently passed sales taxes?

    • Would visitors to Redwood City pay local sales tax?

  • Economic Development

    • Can the City charge developers higher fees?

    • Does Downtown development place a greater financial burden on the City?

    • How has Redwood City’s sales tax generators changed over time?

    • How much in additional property tax revenue is Redwood City getting because of Downtown development?

    • How much in additional sales tax revenue is Redwood City getting because of Downtown development?

    • How would a sales tax affect auto dealerships in Redwood City?

    • What are Redwood City’s major sales tax generators?

    • What taxes do Redwood City businesses pay?

    • Would a sales tax measure hurt local business?

  • Alternatives

    • How can I learn more?

    • What business license tax rate would be needed to generate $8 million annually to prevent cuts to city services?

    • What parcel tax rate would be needed to generate $8 million annually to prevent cuts to city services?