Mountain View plans to update a business license tax for the first time in 64 years. And Google—by far the biggest corporate denizen—would pick up most of the tab.
The existing tax rakes in about $250,000 a year from 5,000 active businesses, according to city estimates. The average yearly cost per licensee? Just $30.
City officials hope to up the tax enough to generate up to $10 million a year by charging companies on a sliding scale, with larger corporations footing the bulk of the bill. Mayor Lenny Siegel and Councilman John McAlister pitched the idea to colleagues at a public hearing earlier this month.
“We looked at Sunnyvale and San Jose and then we modified it based on our own employment structure,” Siegel said in a phone interview.
In a survey of prospective voters this past March, 64 percent supported a new business tax to fund transportation services—although respondents were not asked to weigh in on a specific structure for the tax.
“The current proposal is that the smallest one-person business would pay $100 per year and the other businesses would pay a tax on a sliding scale based on their number of employees,” Siegel explained. “Google, as our largest employer, would pay somewhere around $3.3 million a year.”
Officials expect to bring the proposal back to the council on June 26 for a vote on whether to place it on the November ballot.
According to Siegel, the city has received numerous letters and hours of public testimony on the proposed tax. So far, it looks like people struggling to keep up with the rising cost of living support raising the tax. The business lobby, on the other hand, wants to bring the rate down or risk scaring away new corporate investment.
If voters pass the tax this fall, the bulk of the funding would go to major transportation projects such as an automated guideway transit, bike and pedestrian pathways and additional community shuttles.
The deadline to submit measures for the Nov. 6 ballot is Aug. 10.