By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Cities line up to support new road tax
Placeholder Image
The city councils of the nine cities in Stanislaus County are supportive of the idea of letting voters have another chance to decide the fate of a half-cent sales tax for roads.

The Turlock City Council reluctantly stood behind the proposal last week. The Ceres City Council agreed in concept to the plan when it last met on Feb. 11.

County and city leaders are working to get the measure on the November presidential ballot.

The 20-year, half-cent sales tax would divvy up proceeds between the cities of Stanislaus County and three major regional projects.

Half of the proceeds raised by the tax, $350 million, would be divided among three regional connectors that are currently in need of expansion and repair. Highway 132 in Modesto, Highway 108 in Riverbank and Oakdale, and the West Main Corridor in Turlock, Newman, and Patterson would each receive $117 million.

The remaining 50 percent would go out to the cities based on a complicated formula of population, tax revenue raised, and mileage driven on city streets.

Members of the Turlock council expressed their own distaste for taxes and the belief that money should be managed better at the state level, but all begrudgingly admitted that the citizens of Turlock should be able to decide for themselves if they were in favor of a tax to benefit Turlock's roads.

All nine cities in Stanislaus County voted in support of the measure as of Tuesday night, Feb. 12. The Stanislaus Council of Governments has elected to contribute a total of $400,000 to the measure in support of an environmental study and fliers to convince likely voters.

Measure K, a previous half-cent sales tax measure, failed in November 2006. The proposal, which was vastly different in scope, received 58 percent approval, falling short of the 66 percent plus one vote for passage.

Supervisor Jim DeMartini said he hopes that the campaign consultants don't botch the campaign, saying that the area needs to keep up with road infrastrucure needs. The credibility of the Measure K campaign was seriously injured when a flyer was mailed out to voted insinuating that a Waterford area crash was due to road congestion when it was in fact driver error.

Vince Harris, executive director of the Stanislaus Council of Governments (StanCOG), said the new ballot measure, in concept, calls for a 20-year tax instead of the 30-year term on the old measure. Measure K would have generated $1.02 billion but the new measure would raise an estimated $700 million.

Half of the funds would be spent on local road maintenance and spent as the cities and county see fit, while the other half would be used to construct new roads. The formula would give Ceres $27.6 million for local road maintenance.

The city of Ceres would also benefit from having a major project - the Service/Mitchell/99 interchange project - including in the capital corridor program.

The pot of money for new road projects is being split into three areas: northern, central and southern corridors. The Service/Mitchell/99 interchange project would take a $21 million chunk of the central corridor monies. Ceres officials asked for $62 million for Service/Mitchell.

Ceres Mayor Anthony Cannella said $21 million for the Service/Mitchell project would enable the city to be eligible for matching state road grants combined with developer fees set aside for the project.

The sharing formula is based on the higher of figures based on population and sales tax, minus two percent for the county.