Opposition slight for Measure S
Measure S, the half-cent sales tax that would be used to repair Nevada City’s streets, has met with little public opposition.
The measure would raise Nevada City’s sales tax to 7.875 percent from 7.375 percent. An argument supporting the sales tax was written for the ballot, but no statement against it was submitted.
The sales tax is focused on road repairs and some of the estimated $7.2 million would go to improve the city’s sidewalks.
The sales tax would last for up to 16 years. Its supporters note that everybody who uses Nevada City’s streets, not just city residents, would pay for the improvements.
“The majority of the street system was constructed to the standards and conditions of the early to mid-20th century with many streets unable to meet today’s traffic demands,” according to the “Nevada City Expenditure Plan” for street repairs if the measure passes. “At current funding levels, the city can only patch the chuckholes and re-grade the gravel roads.”
The main concern about passage for Measure S is “voter apathy,” according to Don Baumgart, co-chairman of the Citizens Committee to Fix Our Streets (http://www.fixourstreets.com). The measure requires two-thirds voter approval to pass instead of the usual majority, because the sales tax fund is meant for specific purposes.
The city has been working to assure residents that money collected for Measure S will be well-managed. City Treasurer George Foster expressed support for the sales tax at a recent Council meeting, where he announced the city was “over the hump” on correcting recent financial mismanagement.
Supporters also are concerned that residents will consider road repairs completed after some streets were recently repaved. “Some Nevada City residents see Boulder and Nevada streets repaved and believe the streets have been repaired,” Baumgart said.
City Engineer Bill Falconi, who calculated costs for total road and sidewalk repairs, said this summer’s work of $300,000 represents only 4 percent of the total needed for citywide fixes.
The entire City Council supports the measure, as do some business owners who say they normally are tax averse.
The report details all the work that will be performed if the measure passes. A copy is available at City Hall or the Web site, http://www.fixourstreets.com. Some highlights include of expenditures for “a typical year” include:
-Planned maintenance, including pavement grinding, asphalt pavement overlay and surface treatments for $329,000.
– Citywide seasonal road maintenance estimated to cost $34,000
-Citywide bridge maintenance estimated at $7,000
All told, about 74 streets are singled out for repair, Falconi said in his report. Ten sidewalks also are slated for improvement or construction.
“While the city remains committed to continue efforts to obtain all possible Federal and State funding for street improvements, it is apparent that without the one-half (1/2) cent sales tax revenue the city will be unable to accomplish its task to maintain the street system at a level to adequately serve the traveling public,” the report said.
To reach staff writer Josh Singer, e-mail email@example.com or call 477-4234.
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