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Grass Valley may try transportation tax again

Grass Valley leaders said they’ve learned their lesson about needing to better detail transportation needs and, despite last November’s failure, they want to try passing a transportation sales tax again.

Residents could be asked to vote on a new sales tax measure as soon as June 2008 if the city moves as quickly as Mayor Mark Johnson projects. In the next month, council members could decide whether they’ll attempt another half-cent tax.

“We’d need to know the project list well by fall and then start working on getting the information to voters,” Johnson said. “It takes six to nine months to run a good campaign.”



The Dorsey Drive interchange at the Golden Center Freeway and street repaving top the list of concerns that would be paid for by the tax, but council members have reached no consensus on specific projects.

Explain project better




The failure of last year’s Measure T sales tax measure – which would have levied half a cent on every retail dollar – stung because a majority of voters approved the tax, but the measure fell short of the two-thirds needed to pass. Last month, during a City Council goal setting session, council members said they’d like to try passing a transportation sales tax measure again.

“We need to do a better job explaining the projects and what (funding) has been available,” Johnson said.

Tim Kiser, the city engineer, said Grass Valley doesn’t have enough money to do routine street paving.

The city expects to pay about $2 million in the current fiscal year to complete transportation-related projects. That number comes nowhere near the city’s overall transportation needs, city officials said.

Councilman Chauncey Poston said the city can’t save enough annually to build the Dorsey Drive interchange which is needed to handle current traffic and future growth. City officials tabbed the interchange as costing $20 million or more.

“We’ve been passing (development) projects in that quadrant assuming that (interchange) will be in place,” Poston said. “The interchange would go a heck of a long way to reducing traffic on Idaho-Maryland Road and East Main Street.”

Reasons for failure

Measure T failed in part because it had five general categories for spending the money, including funding for the Wolf Creek Parkway and a downtown parking structure that had no specific location at the time of the balloting, Poston and Johnson said.

Former Nevada City Mayor Paul Matson, who led a citizen committee supporting Nevada City’s successful transportation sales tax measure last November, has some advice for Grass Valley.

The city should study the needs of both its streets and sidewalks, Matson said.

Crafting a plan addressing all the city’s assorted street and sidewalk needs will garner more support, Matson advised.

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To contact Staff Writer Greg Moberly, e-mail gregm@theunion .com or call 477-4234.


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