Backers of half-cent sales tax seeking 1,200 signatures
Senior Staff Writer
Proponents of a half-cent sales tax to build the long-awaited Dorsey Drive Interchange and maintain Grass Valley roads are confident they can get the measure on the November ballot.
The measure filed in mid-May by former City Council members Patti Ingram, Dee Mautino and Steve Enos, needs 824 valid voters’ signatures to qualify, “but we want 1,200,” Ingram said Friday, to ensure it makes it.
Signature gatherers are working Grass Valley streets and polling people “to see how much interest there is,” Ingram said.
Though the tax backers had 180 days from May 23 to get their signatures, “We’re wrapping it up July 2,” Ingram said, to get the measure on the ballot.
“The polling and signatures are going very well,” Ingram said, though she and Enos did not know exactly how many have been gathered so far.
“Some are not in favor, but we’re gathering the signatures we need, plus,” Ingram said.
The tax from the former council members comes on the heels of the close loss of Measure T, a sales tax on the 2006 ballot that failed to get a two-thirds majority vote. Opponents said the measure contained too many projects, including a parking garage for downtown.
City officials and others said after the failed vote that a pared-down sales tax for roads and the interchange might work, and that’s what the former council trio drafted.
The proposed interchange to improve access to Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital has been a Nevada County dream for many years.
County Transportation Commission leader Dan Landon said Friday the interchange project should be ready to go on the state highway project list at the beginning of 2009.
The state has about $18.1 million put aside for the project, but the community has to come up with $15.1 million in matching funds for the $33.2 million project, Landon said. If the county doesn’t come up with the money by 2009, the project would be on hold until the funds are secured.
About 54 percent of the proposed sales tax would go toward the interchange, with 46 percent going to maintain Grass Valley roads.
Those funds and traffic mitigation fees from developers will have to come into play to raise the $15.1 million, Landon said. The county is now looking to raise traffic mitigation fees to help the effort, he added.
The fee on an average newly built home would go from about $800 to $4,000 if the Board of Supervisors accept the proposal, Landon said.
To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4237.
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