Investing in city’s future starts at ballot box 

From housing to creating jobs to our parks and playgrounds, I am working with the members of the board  to give San Franciscans a real opportunity to shape the future of our city this November.

This week, the Board of Supervisors placed a measure on November’s ballot to create the San Francisco Housing Trust Fund. The product of months of work with affordable-housing advocates, community organizations and housing developers, the fund would create  sustainable revenues to fund housing construction so San Francisco is a viable place to live and work for people at every level of the economy.

The board and I also worked together on a ballot measure to invest in parks, playgrounds and recreation centers.

The $195 million parks bond will focus on renovating and improving parks and open spaces to respond to the needs of The City’s children, youths and families, so we can keep providing the highest-quality parks, services and recreational programming.

And then there’s our tax on jobs. San Francisco is the only city in California with a payroll tax. It’s time to reward companies for creating jobs in our city, not punish them. This week, I joined board President David Chiu and Supervisor John Avalos to announce a consensus measure to reform our business-tax structure.

This comprehensive proposal — which is projected to create more than 1,750 new private-sector jobs annually and generate $28.5 million in new revenue for The City’s general fund in its first year — will end our tax on jobs, protect small businesses and bring stable, growing revenue for vital city services and affordable housing for the future.

City Controller Ben Rosenfield, city economist Ted Egan and their hardworking staffs have developed a fair, equitable and broad-based business tax reform measure, and we reached agreement on a single reform measure that will generate new revenue for infrastructure, economic and community development. It has wide support from business,  labor and board members.

The consensus ordinance imposes gross receipts and gross expense taxes on businesses, phased in over five years beginning in tax year 2014, to reduce payroll-tax rates based on the amount of gross-receipts tax collected based on seven progressive tax schedules categorized by industry.

The proposal also establishes business registration fees based on gross receipts and gross expenses, which have not been adjusted in more than a decade. Starting at $75 for small businesses and increasing to up to $35,000 for companies earning more than $200 million a year, these license fees would be adjusted annually via the Consumer Price Index.

If voters approve the measure, I will convene a Jobs, Economic and Community Development Advisory Council with broad representation to develop recommendations for the mayor’s annual budget that invest business license fee revenues into critical infrastructure — including housing, Muni maintenance and street repaving — and other economic and community development initiatives that will create jobs, invest in our workforce, support small business and promote economic growth.

The board will consider this reform Tuesday. Together with voters, we can reform our payroll tax to create thousands of new jobs, help our small businesses and entrepreneurs thrive, create thousands of new units of affordable and workforce housing and invest in our parks, playgrounds and waterfront for the future.

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Ed Lee

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