On Monday, we told you about a debate taking place in San Francisco on whether to extend payroll tax breaks for new employees to companies in certain maligned areas of the city. The proposal was framed as a way to attract companies to locate in these parts of San Francisco and as a way to keep big name companies like Twitter in town. It looks like the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee have passed the proposal to the full board. The proposal is almost a sure thing with the newer, more conservative board voting.
The first point of contention is to define the geographic boundaries of the proposed tax breaks. The two economically depressed areas of the city originally included in the proposal are Mid-Market and Tenderloin. While Mid-Market looks to be staying in its entirety, part of the Tenderloin area might be removed from the legislation.
As the San Francisco Chronicle notes, gives one area tax breaks, you might have to start giving more:
Meanwhile, companies located in other parts of the city are starting to ask — and soon may demand — that the proposed tax exemption be extended to other parts of the city so they, too, could benefit and make a commitment to remain in San Francisco.
The second unresolved issue are the specifics behind what is called the “Community Benefits Agreement.” This basically says that if your payroll exceeds one million dollars, then you have to make some sort of promise to help out the community if you want your shiny tax breaks.
The Chronicle reports that a soft proposal with Twitter would have them set aside $200K for local services like janitors, promise to hire 25% of new employees locally, donate used computers to youth organizations and a whole list of other things to help out the community.
To opponents of the legislation, the “Community Benefits Agreement” must just look like (Lord, forgive me) putting lipstick on a pig. But even if you think the tax breaks amount to corporate welfare, at least they are trying to make it palatable. On the other hand, proponents can boast that they aren’t just keeping businesses in San Francisco, but they are immediately helping the community in the process.
First full vote is set for April 5th.