CA: Board of Supervisors Gives Initial Nod to Roads Tax

July 29--The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors is moving forward with placing a quarter-cent sales tax for road maintenance on the November ballot, seeking a long-term solution to a chronic shortfall in funding for pavement upkeep.

The measure would join a half dozen other tax proposals put forward by cities and school entities in recent weeks.

The move comes amid opposition from at least one city and questions over how much of the potential tax revenue would be dedicated to fixing the county's crumbling road network, which has suffered from years of neglect and is consistently rated among the worst in the Bay Area. A late push by advocates for public transit appears to have carved off 10 percent of the county's share of the tax measure's proceeds for such purposes.

Overall, the proposed tax would raise an estimated $537 million over 20 years, assuming 3 percent growth, with the proceeds divided between the county and its nine cities through a formula weighing population and the number of road miles in each jurisdiction. The measure would raise $20 million in the first year.

The board unanimously supported to push ahead with a general sales tax measure and an accompanying advisory ballot measure that would state voters' desire to use the revenue on roads countywide, including city streets and the 1,382-mile network governed by the county. The approach would require 50 percent of the vote to pass. A special tax dedicated for roads would require two-thirds of the vote.

The Board of Supervisors will meet Aug. 5 to formally place the measure on the ballot and craft the county portion of the advisory measure. Each city has contributed language to the measure stating how the cities plan to use the potential sales tax revenue. The deadline to place a measure on the ballot is Aug. 8.

Copyright 2014 - The Press Democrat, Santa Rosa, Calif.