Measure G press update
Merced, among other Valley counties are producing measures for the General Election to increase sales taxes to pay for roads. These roads -- as the top contributors to these campaigns, public officials, and everybody else knows -- will not reduce traffic congestion. But, business is business, and Measure G supporters don’t care about consequences. They will just pave the way for more growth and more traffic congestion. That’s why hundreds of thousands of dollars are being spent to convince the public to vote against its own interests for more growth, more traffic, worse air and, not so indirectly, utility-rate hikes – because development does not pay for itself or provide stable employment at any wage. It is a boom that busts.
But, our congressman tells the local McClatchy outlet his latest vision, which some say he stole from Jerry McNerney as part of a move to distance himself from Rep. RichPAC Pombo, Crook-Tracy:
"I believe we can make this area the Silicon Valley of renewable energy,” Cardoza said. “There are technological advances that could come out of this university that we are not even contemplating." – Merced Sun-Star, Oct. 27, 2006.
In one sentence, the Incumbent Boy manages to trivialize the San Joaquin Valley, Silicon Valley, renewable energy and technological innovation and invention.
The San Joaquin Valley is the “Silicon Valley of Agriculture.” It remains in the forefront of agricultural technological innovation – at least while it has enough agricultural land to be worth the effort.
Every local growth hustler in America has been claiming Silicon Valley can be transported to his or her little burg or rust bowl – but there is only one Silicon Valley.
UC Riversides, Irvines and Merceds may multiply by land-deal boondoggle, but there is only one Cal.
Real inventors of alternative energy technology tend to be like brahma bulls in milking barns, not good little academics or “one voice” politicos.
Urban sprawl does not "another Silicon Valley" make.
The Pomboza (Pombo/Cardoza) continues to want one thing: real estate development. It is about the least innovative policy imaginable for the San Joaquin Valley.
Measure G creates a moving target for development by opening up new growth corridors. In the process it makes a mockery out of planning, the county General Plan update and all the other community and special urban development plans.
Sooner or later, the Federal Highway Administration must look at funding more highway construction in the nation’s second-worst air pollution basin. Measure G is part of a political game to make the FHA look away from Valley air pollution for as long as possible.
Oct. 29, 2006
Keep our tax dollars at home...Editorial
If we don't help ourselves, our money subsidizes other counties. There are plenty of good reasons for Valley voters to approve transportation sales tax measures on Nov. 7... There are 10 counties with transportation sales taxes on the Nov. 7 ballot. Eight are in the Valley; the exceptions are Santa Barbara, Amador and Orange counties. Fresno and San Joaquin counties are voting on renewals. Kern, Tulare, Madera, Merced and Stanislaus are voting on new measures. Seventeen counties already have such taxes in place. All are in the Bay Area or Southern California, with the exception of Fresno and San Joaquin counties. Most of those taxes are set in place for many years; Los Angeles' tax is permanent. Vote "yes" on Measure T in Madera County, Measure R in Tulare County, Measure I in Kern County and Measure G in Merced County. Vote "yes" on Fresno County's Measure C. Keep our tax dollars at home to work for us, not our neighbors on the coast.
Oct. 28, 2006
More taxes means more power for politicians...Jim Cardoza
Long before bilingual forms and cell phones, services like police, firemen and road maintenance were local government's top priorities. But now, no matter how fast the tax base grows, politicians routinely tell us we must pay more to sustain those vital functions...how can elected officials justify spending a dime on perks, charities and other nonessential expenditures? Pleading with overburdened taxpayers to raise their allowance would be straightforward, but not likely to bear fruit...instead, they choose to wring their hands in seemingly reflective and insightful public concern as they peddle a perception of impending crisis, such as too few cops or otherwise unfixable roadways. When voters bite the hook, the old money is then freed for use throwing around political weight. That political shell game often triumphs because it takes advantage of the widely believed fallacy that taxes are the result of need. The truth is, tax hikes are almost always about beliefs. Just five decades ago, a middle-class American family of four paid about 6 percent of their annual income in taxes of all types. Today, such a family pays well over 40 percent. This state of affairs has resulted from a combination of factors...: the politicians' desire for power, which is the ability to control money; the wasteful nature of bureaucracy, which shares the cancer cell's mission of growth for the sake of growth; and the massive power wielded by public employees unions, of which the California Legislature has long been an identifiable subsidiary. More taxes only encourage politicians to conjure new ways of expanding government. Stripped of sugarcoating, taxes are simply instruments of force used by the state to seize your money... Even less defensible is the enormous amount of resources government fritters away mindlessly within tail-chasing bureaucracies. Whereas private industry looks to streamline costs, bureaucracy's goal is to vaporize every cent in their budgets as a means of getting more next year. Presiding over such a world of waste, it is little wonder politicians view the perks and privileges they shuffle to each other as chump change. More taxes only encourage politicians to conjure new ways of expanding government. Why not insist their focus be limited to providing uncompromised essential services...
Complain, or change the way campaigns are run...Jim Boren
Elections have become the province of the special interests and political professionals. That has driven down voter turnout and increased political cynicism. A survey released last week by the Public Policy Institute of California says voters are discouraged in this year's campaign because the candidates aren't talking about issues that concern them. David Schecter, an assistant professor of political science at California State University, Fresno, says voter turnout is going down for several reasons other than negative campaigning. Many voters don't think their vote counts and others are frustrated with the political system...also points out that gerrymandered congressional and legislative districts limit competition and interest in those races.
Spending out of control...Ted Brodalski...Letters to the editor
...school districts demand money from new home buyers by intimidating the builders to pay higher fees. They get funding per student from Sacramento. They demand money using school bonds to correct deferred maintenance and build new schools. There is never enough money to meet their demands. The bonds are directed at real property. This is the topper that is asking for our vote for a constitutional amendment and statute to create a statewide parcel tax of $50 per parcel (Prop. 88). No one in education wants to talk about the broken school spending.
Oct. 27, 2006
Politicians ruining state...ROBERT C. SHERWOOD, Los Banos...Once again the rulers of perpetual debt (the California state government) are spending more than we pay them to spend. Business is good in California...the gas tax is up higher...Property taxes are up higher... state sales tax revenues are higher...state even got about $400 million income tax from the sale of Google stock... If our local officials don't succumb to this coercion and get the voters to pass a local sales tax increase for good sounding causes like schools or roads, then we are not a "self-help" county and cannot receive matching funds or other funds that are long overdue. That compares to a thief offering to sell you back the goods he has stolen from you at a half-percent more than the price that you have already paid for the goods. Remember the "pothole tax" a few years ago? This doubled the road taxes and was supposed to keep them fixed. What did the state do with that money? Remember the state lottery? Vote no on any tax increase because it is never enough.
Oct. 25, 2006
Measure G half page ad...too large to send out
A6 Wednesday, October 25, 2006 LOCAL®ION Merced Sun-Star, Merced, Calif
Vote Yes! on G...Myths and Truths about Measure G paid for by Merced County Transportation Alliance...FPPC #1281519
The Cities and County already have money in their budgets for roads....Yes...most general fund money budgeted...
The gas tax should pay for our roads..............................................................Yes...CA gas tax...money allocated based on population.
The State of CA should pay for Hwy. 99...........................................................Yes...we can't wait that long...
The State of CA will take Measure G money for its own projects................No...Measure G is a locally approved and a locally controlled tax...
All Measure G money will go toward highways..............................................No...approx. 1/2 of the funds divided among all cities and uncorporated areas throughout the County for local street and county road repair
There is no Measure G money for local projects...........................................See above response.
Measure G will pay for new roads needed as a result of all new
development.........................................................................................................Projects chosen for Measure G funding include maintenance and improvements to EXISTING roads
County legislators will use this money for projects other than
transportation.......................................................................................................Measure G is a special tax...can ONLY be spent on the transportation projects and programs that VOTERS APPROVE.
The majority of voters don't support a transportation measure..................In June...62.8% voted in SUPPORT...we need two thirds...67%.
Want good roads in Merced? It'll cost nearly $50 million...Ellie Wooten...Community Voices
The simple truth is Merced's streets and roads are not aging well. The solution is to keep the roads in shape with regular maintenance and repair...there is a gap between the amount of roadwork that needs to be done and the money available. Until we obtain the money, there will be rough roads ahead.
Oct. 24, 2006
Road initiative misleading...David A. Bultena, Merced...Letters to the editor
I recently received a copy of the voter pamphlet for Measure G...first page marked "24G1" and noted first of all, at the top it says "Measure A." I think Measure A was the last attempt to pass the sales tax. under "Measure A," the text asks the question, "Shall Merced County voters approve a one-half cent transportation?" Note that it says "one-half cent" and not "one-half percent." In the paragraph titled "Summary," the same language is used a second time. It seems to me that there is a great difference between collecting a half-percent sales tax and a half-cent sales tax. ..with all the high salaried people in charge of the county, members of the supervisors, etc., someone would have been smart enough to know the difference between the income from a "half-cent" sales tax and a "half-percent"sales tax.
Vote down higher taxes...Wayne Hein, Merced...Letters to the editor
Utopia is soon to descend upon our Merced community, according to the proponents of Measure G. For the third time in four years, the "powers that be" are trying to brainwash the voters that this tax issue is a "must!" nine major donors have given approximately $130,000 for convincing purposes. Aren't some heavily funded developers anticipating with glee that if passed the measure will give a boost to their development activities? And where is the limit to the sales tax? Proponents say that it is only -- repeat only -- a "few dollars" per year. Isn't that what the same voices said when the last sales tax increased to our current amount? Must Merced be in the same class as San Francisco and San Rafael? And when we are told in a few years that a need (?) exists, and a bond is needed for the funding, can we not expect the same voices to tell us that the added amount would be "only a few dollars?"
Measure G not the answer...Robert Wood, Atwater...Letters to the editor
Measure G is back again and I don't like it at all. I voted against it in June, I voted against it in 2002, and I'll vote against it again on Nov. 7. Special interest groups are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to make voters believe that more taxes is the answer. Take all the gas tax money that we pay at the pump and spend it where it is supposed to be spent, on the roads! The message is, nothing gets done unless we say yes to Measure G. I say take some of the thousands of dollars that is spent to push this unnecessary tax and use it to fix our streets. Please don't let our local government put a gun to your head with this tax increase. Tell them to fix our roads with the money they already have. Twice before, we told them the answer is no. Vote no on Measure G and say no one more time.
Oct. 22, 2006
'Taxpayers not only have subsidized, but will continue to subsidize, developers'...Dario Marenco
In 1990, when Measure K was placed on the ballot, one of the key features presented to voters was that a regional transportation impact fee would be placed on all future developments...15 years late, San Joaquin County Council of Governments is just now implementing this feature with a minimum fee of $2,500 for every new home built. That means developers have pocketed - and taxpayers have unnecessarily paid - at least $200 million for developments the past 15 years. If Measure K passes again...taxpayers not only have subsidized, but will continue to subsidize, developers...there are various loopholes in the Measure K renewal resolution that would enable developers to avoid paying the regional transportation impact fees under certain circumstances....costs... The San Joaquin Council of Governments, a 26-employee agency with an annual budget of $4.3 million, spent $86,000 for travel and conferences in 2002... Both Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced, and Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, have staffs that cost our taxpayers over $1 million to represent these identical interests. Obviously, we already have professional, well-paid representatives in place in San Joaquin County and Washington, D.C., to protect and work for these same county interests. How then is a one-week, 50-person, $90,000 trip to Washington, D.C. - organized and promoted by the Council of Governments but paid for by taxpayers - justified to make our interests known?
Oct. 21, 2006
Your Views: Letters to the Editor:
B2 Saturday, October 21, 2006 Merced Sun-Star
Community at stake
Editor: We must do something locally to make the necessary improvements to our roads. Voting yes for Measure G is the answer. It's not just the porholes -- it's the long-term economic vitality of our community that's at stake. Having adequate and well-maintained roads is vital if we are to continue to meet the needs of our existing business community and citizens and continue to attract new business to Merced County.
If we truly want to preserve our quality of life, vote yes on Measure G.
Bob Carpenter, Merced
Who should pay road tax
Editor: Why more taxes to pay for streets, roads and highways? Why should law-abiding citizens in Merced County or any county be asked to pay more taxes to repair streets, roads and highways? They are already paying one of the highest gasoline taxes of any state in the United States and using more gasoline than any other state and the gasoline tax is supposed to be used to build and repair roads
Those who ought to be charged extra to pay for streets, roads and highways are the law-breaking speeders who ignore all posted speed limit signs. However; there is practically no visible law enforcers on any of our streets, roads and highways. My wife and I recently drove all the way across the United States and only saw three highway patrols. We went from Atwater to Gallup, N.M., before we saw the first highway patrol.
Just think of how many millions of dollars in fines that could be collected each day if the millions of California speeders were stopped every day. Hardly any drivers are obeying the posted speed limit signs, not only the drivers of autos, but truck drivers as well.
Never will I vote for a tax to repair streets, roads and highways until this situation is corrected. It is no wonder that so many people are being killed in auto accidents at the speeds they are traveling on the highways.
Lloyd 'Lefty" Stepp, Atwater
Group disputes EPA air ruling...Mark Grossi
Environmentalists last week accused air authorities of ignoring pollution violations in their haste to acknowledge a milestone cleanup of dust and soot in the San Joaquin Valley. Earthjustice, an Oakland-based legal watchdog, threatened a lawsuit over the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's finding on Tuesday that the Valley has not violated the dust and soot standard in three years. Earthjustice lawyer Paul Cort said authorities disregarded readings last November that showed violations in Bakersfield and Corcoran. Earthjustice's allegation refers to secondary monitors used to help forecast daily pollution warnings, district planning director Scott Nester said. The monitors are in Corcoran, Bakersfield and Tracy, and they are not part of the federally sanctioned network. Kerry Drake, associate director of the EPA's regional air division, confirmed that the readings from the secondary monitors don't count unless they have been operated in accordance with federal regulation.
Oct. 20, 2006
Roads not safe for cyclists...Dough Fluetsch, Merlock Athletic Association, Merced...2nd letter...The roads, due to budget constraints of our city and county officials, have been deteriorating to the point where safety has become a major concern for cyclists. Measure G will enable each community within Merced County to address safety issues for bicyclists and drivers alike.
Re-inventing the wheel...Beverly Quigley, Merced...3rd letter...I have a simple question regarding Measure G... Doesn't Measure G basically request that I pay those taxes again (matching funds)? Why would I pay for one purchase twice? What happened to the monies I've been paying for 13 years?
Oct, 19, 2006
Builder outlines coming shops...Leslie Albrechthttp://www.mercedsunstar.com/local/story/12911855p-13570464c.htmlA shopping center so grand that its creators call it a "power center" was the star attraction at a Greater Merced Chamber of Commerce event updating members on new commercial development Wednesday...breakfast gathering highlighted several developments -- some still just concept drawings, others under construction -- that will shape Merced's shopping future...so-called "power center" is the Merced Gateway Park, a 133-acre regional shopping center slated for construction between Gerard Avenue and Mission Avenue on the east side of Coffee...center would offer world-class shopping on par with Fresno's River Park shopping center. Street in southeast Merced...include office space, hotels and possibly a movie theater. The site is now pasture land that's belonged to Pluim's family...shopping center will sit next to 196 condominiums that developer Matthews Homes plans to build at the corner of Gerard Avenue and Coffee Street....a half-mile to the west on Gerard Avenue is the site where Wal-Mart wants to build. Other projects highlighted at the chamber breakfast included: • A 15-acre shopping center planned for Yosemite Avenue between El Redondo Drive and Compass Pointe Drive (between R Street and Highway 59) in North Merced. • A 26-acre shopping center across Coffee Street from Merced Gateway Park called Merced Forum... • A neighborhood shopping center now under construction at Yosemite Park Way and Parsons Street
County expects voter turnout to be strong...Corinne Reillyhttp://www.mercedsunstar.com/local/story/12911857p-13570484c.htmlTwice as many Merced County residents are expected to cast ballots on Nov. 7 compared to last June's primary election. As of Wednesday morning, 92,826 people are registered to vote in the county...expected to climb until Monday, the last day to register to vote in the November election. Only a quarter of Merced's registered voters cast ballots in June...county expects 45 to 50 percent of registered voters to show up in November. Stephen Nicholson, a political science professor at UC Merced who studies elections and voting behavior...high campaign expenditures on statewide ballot items will likely bring more voters to the polls. National issues, such as the war in Iraq and recent scandals within the Republican party, could also boost voter turnout...Measure G, a half-cent sales tax measure to fund local transportation improvements, could also bring more voters to the polls this time around. Brown said some of the 21,000 absentee ballots the county has mailed to local voters since Oct. 10 are already coming back, but the county has yet to begin counting them. Local voters can request absentee ballots through Oct. 31. Those not registered to vote can do so for November's election through Monday.Merced Sun-Star Tip List:
City street named after capital of North Dakota is misspelled...Leslie Albrechthttp://www.mercedsunstar.com/local/story/12911861p-13570456c.htmlWe're a university town and we need to start acting like it," said an anonymous tipster who left a message for the Tip List last week...Loughborough Drive in Merced is blighted with a typo. The street, like 18 others in the neighborhood, was named for a state capital: Bismarck, North Dakota. Unfortunately, the sign reads "Bismark." Local fifth-graders should be able to spot the misspelled street sign right away if they've been studying hard. Fifth-graders are responsible for knowing the location of all 50 states and the names of their capitals, said Nanette Rahilly, director of curriculum for Merced City School District. But she noted that the curriculum doesn't say anything about actually spelling the capitals correctly."I don't know how long that sign has been there," said Lesch of the Bismark sign. "It might be 30 or 40 years old. I'm surprised no one has said anything."
Oct. 18, 2006
Be a responsible editor...David A. Ginsberg, Merced...Letters to the editor
I read where you are endorsing Measure G, even on the front page. I can understand that endorsement if it is a corporate endorsement. After all, the Sun-Star is a major user of the county's roads and it makes sense that better roads mean a more efficient and therefore a more profitable newspaper. If, however, you are writing as an individual, then shame on you...you are in a position to see that the result of its passage would mean more land speculation, more development, loss of productive agricultural land, and the pollution of our Valley...the Sun-Star editor is in a position to see the effect another half-cent sales tax would have on the wage-earners of this county who are having trouble with increasing house payments, utilities, energy and food costs. ($82.50 a thousand doesn't sound like much until you are financing a $10,000 car). You are in a better position than anyone to investigate into whose pocket our gas taxes and gas sales taxes go that are some of the highest in the country that are supposed to pay for our roads. You are in a better position than anyone to realize that with the next serious public threat (like flood control) our elected leaders will be coming again, with hat in hand, asking for more money but we will already be committed to 30 years of higher taxes for roads that by then won't work. Yes, shame on you, Mr. Editor. You know better.
Vote down taxes...Geraldine Alsop, Merced...Letters to the editor
It has come to my attention that there are four propositions on the November ballot to raise our taxes...I am 84 years old this November. I am a property owner so anything that undermines Prop. 13 is like shooting property owners; we can be taxed right out of our homes if you don't go to vote no on Proposition 88. Proposition 89...having to pay taxes for ads that attack candidates and causes you support, and support the candidates and causes you oppose. Proposition 86...hospital industry trying to get back some of their losses on treating the uninsured by allowing them to charge taxpayers more than they charge insurance companies for the same services. Proposition 87 will increase California taxes.
Readers sound off on the coming election
Measures G, K pave way for growth...Robby Avilla, Stevinson...Merced County's half-cent sales tax for transportation, Measure G, is equivalent to Stanislaus County's Measure K. As both counties fill up with massive subdivision growth, we are told that we cannot lure industries and jobs until we fix the roads. However, if we do the large road projects that state matching funds will address, we can be assured that even more massive housing tracts will be approved. It is a Catch-22 situation. Give us measures that truly do just fix and maintain our roads, instead of these top-heavy measures that will create grand roadway projects for still more overdevelopment. When a tiny town like Stevinson, with a population of 400, is asked to absorb a 3,500-unit gated community, the situation has grown out of control. In Merced County, the developers have financed the heck out of Measure G. Of course they have — it literally paves the way for their projects. Put the brakes on developer's megaprojects and vote "no" on Measures G and K.
Oct. 17, 2007
Vote no on taxes...Nancy Hart...Letters to the editor
If passed, these proposals will cost you and me several hundred dollars every single year for decades. I have never seen such a flood of proposed taxes and bonds as there is this time around. The Merced Sun-Star has pointed out that Measure G and E alone will cost the average family per year $83 and $90 respectively, totaling $173. That does not include the following: Proposition lB, Proposition 1C, Proposition 1D, Proposition 1E, Proposition 84, Proposition 86, Proposition 87, Proposition 88, Proposition 89 -- $200 million in new taxes annually to pay for political campaigns, also Measure E and G as outlined above. It won't stop here either. More and more bond issues will be introduced as the years go by. Even when a bond issue is defeated, it keeps coming back. Look at Measure G which has been resubmitted under new names three times in the past four years.
Oct. 16, 2006
Road levy will need a bevy...Russell Clemings
County's Measure C...proposed 20-year extension of the half-cent transportation sales tax, which is due to expire next summer...
half-cent tax first was enacted in 1986, only a simple majority was required. It got about 57.5%. Now, for the proposed extension, a two-thirds vote is required. A previous extension attempt in 2002 won 54% approval, but by then, a court ruling had already raised the bar, so it failed. The 2002 effort also was crippled. This time, local leaders have crafted a spending plan for the 20-year extension that divides $1.7 billion in expected revenues among three major purposes - public transit, local street repairs and improvements, and major streets and highways. Four counties - Merced, Monterey, Napa and Solano - tried to get local transportation sales taxes approved in the June primary. All failed. Only Merced, with 63%, even came close. Ten counties are trying in November, including Merced and Tulare, both of which have failed previously, and Madera, where a half-cent tax expired last year after a failed extension effort in 2002. The largest share of contributions to the committee so far comes from the building industry and associated businesses...Former California Secretary of State Bill Jones, now chairman of Fresno-based Pacific Ethanol, gave $10,000. Jones and Smith are co-chairmen of the chamber's committee.
Oct. 15, 2006
10-15-06Merced Sun-StarSales tax rates in California...Source: California State Board of Equalization...10-14-06A 8 Saturday, October 14, 2006 BACK PAGE Merced Sun-Star, Merced, Calif.
Madera County 7.25%
Marin County 7.75%
City of San Rafael 8.25%
Merced County 7.25%
City of Merced 7.75%
San Francisco County 8.50%
San Joaquin County 7.75%
San Joaquin County, City of Stockton 8.00%
Stanislaus County 7.375%
Major Donors to Measure G...Source: Merced County Board of Elections...10-14-06Merced Sun-Star, Merced Calif. LOCAL®ION Saturday, October 14, 2006 A7Business Location AmountBrookfield Castle LLC , Del Mar $27,500
A. Teichert & Son, Sacramento $
E&J Gallo Winery, Modesto $15,000
Foster Farms, Livingston $15,000
K. Hovanian Forecast Homes, Sacramento $15,000
WellingtonCorporation, Morgan Hill $10,000
Team 31, Inc. , Morgan Hill $10,000
Atwater East Investors, Danville $10,000
Ferrari Investment Company, Balico $15,000
Major Donors to Measure A...Source: Merced County Board of Elections...10-14-06Merced Sun-Star, Merced Calif. LOCAL®ION Saturday, October 14, 2006
California Alliance for Jobs, Sacramento $50,000
Atwater East Land Develop. Co., Danville $15,000
Ranchwood Homes, Merced $15,000
Ferrari Investment Co. , Turlock $15,000
KB Home Central Valley Inc. , Sacramento $15,000
Gallo Cattle Co., Atwater $10,000
H/S Development Co., Bakersfield $10,000
Florsheim Land, LLC , Stockton $15,000
Crosswinds Development, Novi, MI $15,000
Brookfield Sac. Holdings , Sacramento $15,500
Lennar Communities , San Ramon $10,000
A. Teichert & Son, Sacramento $10,000
Granite Construction, Watsonville $10,000
Road to Progress: Merced Co. needs road tax, too: Yes on Measure G...Editorial
Editor's note: Measure G is Merced County's version of Measure K. The following is an editorial reprinted from the Oct. 7 edition of the Merced Sun-Star. Have Merced County's roads improved since June?...no...June as a reference point because that's when Measure A, a half-cent sales tax increase proposal to help fix our dilapidated streets and highways, narrowly failed to get the required two-thirds of the vote to pass. Had it passed, a long list of projects to improve our roads would have swung into motion by now -- most bolstered with state and federal funds that only are available to counties that pass "self-help" tax increases. Now, Measure G -- which essentially is identical to Measure A -- is on the November ballot. Voters must vote "yes." Why?...there's simply no other way to get the transportation dollars this community, No one has a better idea because there isn't one that is realistic or makes sense.
Road to Progress: No matter which way you look, we need to pass half-cent sales tax...Editorial
We, the citizens of Stanislaus County, are in the driver's seat...to our transportation future, and we're at a crossroads...we can see the mistakes of the last 15 years...other counties were willing to put their own money into local roads. With the passage of Measure K...half-cent increase in the sales tax from 7.375 cents on the dollar to 7.875 cents...1 billion over the next 30 years, and that money would help pay for several new interchanges on Highway 99 and for making Highway 219 a four-lane road across the northern part of the county...provide money for cities to fix dangerous intersections and to fill some of our infamous potholes...
provide money for transit for seniors and the disabled, and to boost commuter rail. Opposition to Measure K centers on two themes - mistrust of government and a dislike of higher taxes. All the money will be generated and spent within Stanislaus County. Local elected officials will make the spending decisions, with strong oversight by a citizens' committee.
Road to Progress: Who will keep an eye on how Measure K's funds are spent...Editorial
Spending decisions will be made by local elected officials - mayors, council members and county supervisors - and those officials will have a citizens' committee looking over their shoulders...expenditures will be audited annually in a document to be made available to the public. The policy board: It consists of all five county supervisors; three members of the Modesto City Council; and one member each from the Turlock, Ceres, Oakdale, Riverbank, Patterson, Newman, Hughson and Waterford councils. The technical advisory committee: This consists of the nine city managers and the county's chief executive officer, or their designees. The Citizens Advisory Committee: This veers from the current StanCOG organization. Measure K contains specific qualifications and responsibilities for the citizens oversight committee, which would be in place by July 1. Each city and the county will appoint one member, who will serve without pay. Members cannot be an elected official or a staff member of any city, county or state transportation agency. Members can serve no more than two four-year terms.
Road to Progress: San Joaquin gets money's worth from its version of Measure K...Editorial
San Joaquin County's roads are better than the roads in Stanislaus...Fifteen years ago, San Joaquin County voters decided to tax themselves a half-cent on most purchases, dedicating the money to fixing roads and building new ones...has completed 19 major projects. Santa Clara County was one of the first to pass a self-help sales tax in 1976... Los Angeles County has two permanent sales taxes (a half-cent each)... There also are permanent half-percent taxes in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties. In all, there are 17 self-help counties and five agencies (such as BART) that have permanent sales taxes dedicated to transportation. Nearly 85 percent of all Californians live in self-help counties or districts. In November, voters in five more counties will be asked to pass sales-tax initiatives to fund road improvements. San Joaquin County wants to extend its half-cent tax through 2036. If Stanislaus' Measure K passes, San Joaquin will have a partner county to the south. That's critical because San Joaquin and Stanislaus share several vital roadways — Highways 132, 120 and 99 and Interstate 5...
Road to Progress: Not enough to keep roads where they are...Editorial
"I already pay enough in gas taxes. Use that money to fix and build roads."... We do pay a lot... There are two big factors at work: First, the price of road maintenance and construction is nothing short of astonishing. Second, gas taxes at both the state and federal levels also go to mass transit systems... Below is a summary, relying on information from several sources but primarily the California Budget Project, a nonpartisan organization based in Sacramento. It illustrates the complexity of the financing to note that when the organization prepared a background paper to explain the subject, it required 15 pages, much of it single-spaced. (The full copy is available at www.cbp.org.) FEDERAL TRANSPORTATION DOLLARS: Most of the U.S. Department of Transportation budget comes from federal excise taxes on fuel, which have been levied in every state since 1932. It started at a penny a gallon. The rate is 18.4 cents per gallon on gas and 24.4 cents on diesel. STATE TRANSPORTATION FUNDING: More than half of the California Department of Transportation budget comes from the state excise fuel tax and weight fees (paid by commercial truckers). Both charges went up substantially in the early 1990s as a result of voter approval of Proposition 111. LOCAL TRANSPORTATION MONEY: By the time state and federal funding reaches individual cities, counties and transportation agencies, it's a thin trickle with lots of strings attached.
Road to Progress: Blaming developers for potholes is simply wrong...Editorial
Some people believe...all of our area's road problems were caused by developers...only people who truly benefit from better roads are developers...developers are making so much money that they can afford to fix all our road problems. We can blame housing developers for seizing opportunities; for uncomfortably reducing our green space and for playing the game of politics just a little too well. But we can't blame developers for our badly maintained, overcrowded and largely inadequate roads. For a variety of reasons, our existing roads have been allowed to deteriorate for years. Whether developers are paying their fair share to fix our roads is still open to debate.
Road to Progress: Should Stanislaus County voters enact the half-cent sales tax...Dave Thomas, former radio-TV talk show host, is one of two official spokesmen for the No on K/We're Taxed Out committee
No: More money for bureaucratic bunglers? The proponents of Measure K promise a wonderful result...they will use it wisely... Well, let's look at what they say, and compare it to the facts found in the Stanislaus Council of Governments' "30-Year Transportation Financial Expenditure Plan" of June 2006. They say Measure K will "fix potholes and maintain local streets and roads in every community." But the plan allocates only 9.8 percent of the funds to "local transportation improvements." They say Measure K will provide "matching funds." Unfortunately, the plan allocates no matching funds to local projects, no matching funds to state projects, and only $1.3 million annually for all the promised federal projects. And the feds still determine which projects proceed. About 60 percent of Measure K funds will go to state highway corridors and interchanges. They say Measure K will not promote growth. But the plan identifies state and federal roads that go right to the areas of growth already identified by the cities of Modesto, Turlock, Patterson, Riverbank and Oakdale. They say they do not have enough money to maintain our roads. But the truth is, StanCOG already receives a quarter-cent of the current sales tax, which gives it more than $17 million every year. They say they are interested in fixing local roads. But the plan allocates only 24 percent of the funds for "local and regional" pavement fixes. Consider the obvious: Local bureaucrats have withheld funds to fix our roads in order to bludgeon you into raising your taxes. Have our local officials ever tried to lobby the state Legislature or the federal government for funds to fix our highway problems? Where are our elected Assembly members and senators? Why has our mayor never gone to Sacramento to obtain state grants in recognition of our abundant needs? Why have our supervisors not used their considerable clout to gain state and federal funds? Why have our federal congressmen not lobbied the feds to help us? Need I mention that the "watchdog" audit committee would be appointed by the politicians? Are you and I going to be appointed to that committee? You have seen the slick, multicolor mailers that tell only the part of the story they want us to believe. I encourage you to read the plan...
Road to Progress: Should Stanislaus County voters enact the half-cent sales tax?...Crag C. Lewis, Modesto businessman, chairman of the Yes on K campaign
Yes: Benefits individuals, cities, county alike. First, Measure K is the only way for us to take control of our own collective destiny as it relates to transportation. citizens wonder why Measure K is necessary to improve our roads given that we already pay a transportation sales tax (Proposition 42) at the gas pump...answer is that it will take about $48 million annually to maintain safe roads throughout the county...we can expect to receive no more than $11 million annually from Proposition 42...it alone is insufficient to maintain safe roadways. Measure K has ironclad safeguards that prevent the diversion of any funds to nontransportation projects... cities receiving Measure K money cannot substitute funds previously allocated to transportation with Measure K money... a citizens oversight audit committee... an annual independent audit... Second, Measure K will give Stanislaus County a much-needed advantage in qualifying for state funds... Third, Measure K will create new jobs and invigorate our local economy... Fourth, Measure K is the tax that literally pays for itself... Measure K will cost most residents $55 to $200 annually. Measure K will literally put money back into our pockets. The bonus is merely safer roads, less traffic congestion and air pollution, and a more robust economy
Oct. 14, 2006
Smoother roads ahead?...Leslie Albrecht
Measure G...For the third time in four years, voters will be asked to support a sales tax increase for road improvements...needs approval from 66.7 percent of voters to pass, debuted in November 2002 as Measure M. It failed, earning 61 percent of the vote. In June 2006 it was reborn as Measure A and garnered 63 percent of the vote, falling 795 votes shy of winning. Just five months later, it's back as Measure G. But with each failure, the voices of those opposed to the measure have grown louder. While there is no organized campaign against Measure G, grumblings from the Letters to the Editor section of the Sun-Star show the battle to finally pass the measure is far from over. If it passes, Measure G will hike the sales tax in the city of Merced to 8.25 percent -- within spitting distance of San Francisco's 8.5 percent -- for the next 30 years...would generate $446 million to help fund transportation projects countywide, from reconstructing Livingston's Main Street to building a new Bradley Overhead. Half the money would go to road maintenance. Kelsey said a Caltrans representative told the county earlier this week that if the governor's infrastructure bond measure passes and Merced achieves self-help status with Measure G, the county will be eligible for funding to widen Highway 99 from the Stanislaus County line to Livingston. The measure's most prominent critic is Cathleen Galgiani, a Democrat running for Assembly against Republican Gerry Machado...said the statewide transportation bond measure on the November ballot will provide funding for Merced County roads...noted that the transportation bond will set aside $614 million for eight Central Valley counties in addition to the $1 billion earmarked for widening Highway 99. William Stockard, a retired superintendent of Merced County schools, said Measure G only benefits developers and other businesses like the proposed Riverside Motorsports Park and the proposed Wal-Mart distribution center that "want to get free money."...said the county should cover the cost of road maintenance by charging developers higher impact fees when they build here. Charles Magneson, a farmer near Ballico-Cressey, said he's opposed to Measure G because some of the projects it would fund will create sprawl and eat up farmland..."(Measure G is) heavily funded by developers that are looking for those roads to encroach on farmland to make their developments possible." In June, fliers denouncing Measure A as "welfare subsidies for the Building Industry Association" appeared in the Sun-Star three days before the election. Measure G campaign has tweaked its strategy...raised about $200,000...with the large contributions from donors like developer Brookfield Castle LLC, Del Mar; construction company Teichert & Son, Sacramento; Foster Farms, Livingston; E&J Gallo Winery, Modesto; K. Hovanian Forecast Homes, Sacramento; Wellington Corporation, Morgan Hill; Team 31, inc., Morgan Hill; Atwater East Investors, Danville; and Ferraire Investment Company; Balico...endorsements from Rep. Dennis Cardoza, all three Merced chambers of commerce, five county newspapers including the Sun-Star, the entire County Board of Supervisors and the entire Merced City Council. If it doesn't win, Measure G could come back, but by law supporters would have to wait until the November 2008 election.
Vote no on Measure G...Robby Avilla, Stevinson...Letters to the editor
Merced County Association of Governments is telling Merced County residents, "It's the matching funds, stupid"...to elicit our votes in favor of Measure G....at the same time they stress that Measure G is for road maintenance. Matching state funds do not occur for local road maintenance projects. Matching funds are for major highway projects that will service still more developer-driven, farmland-robbing projects...look who has been the backbone of funding for these continuous half-cent sales tax measures that MCAG has been sponsoring. When developments with 3,500 housing units for a single project start coming before the Merced County Board of Supervisors for approval, we need to start putting the brakes on local developers' delusions of grandeur. Even if Measure G were to be passed, it would not be able to create enough fancy interchanges and bypasses to handle the traffic of the added development that it will green light. Give us a measure that we can support.
Measure K funds will misspent...Bruce R. Frohman, Modesto...Letters to the editor
30-year tax on November's ballot will be spent on growth-inducing projects which should be paid for by fees on new development. Proponents told me the tax will promote development similar to San Joaquin County, which will lose all of its prime farmland in 40 years at the current rate of urban growth. Merced County recently rejected a sales-tax increase. Yet, it is presently building two major freeway interchanges! If the sales-tax increase is not passed, another proposal will appear on the ballot in the near future. Should we hold out for a better deal? Or would we prefer a second sales-tax increase to actually fix the roads?