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Two cities decide on sales taxes

Josh Singer and Trina Kleist
Staff Writers

Voters in Nevada City and Grass Valley are being asked to approve sales tax increases to fund road repair and road-related projects.

Both measures require two-thirds voter approval to pass.

This week the measures faced a unexpected hurdle when the Elections Office sent erroneous or incomplete information to local residents in voter packets. The office is resending the packets with correct information and allowing absentee voters who already cast their ballots to revote.



Supporters who have campaigned for months hope their work has not been undone by the Elections Office’s mistake.

Despite the error, measures S and T appear to have a good chance of passing, at least based on national trends, experts said.




Improvement to infrastructure is one of the few areas where residents are willing to vote for tax increases, according to the Center for Transportation Excellence in Washington, D.C. Between 2000 and 2005, voters in 33 different states approved 70 percent of transportation measures, compared to just 34 percent of all measures.

“Few issues have proved to be as consistent a winner at the ballot box in recent years as ballot measures related to transportation,” the center’s report states.

The strategy of linking car transportation measures with funding for bicycle paths and other noncar transportation, as Grass Valley’s Measure T does, greatly improves the chances of passage, the CTE report says.

Long-term savings?

Nevada City’s measure S would raise money to pave city streets. In Grass Valley, Measure T also would pave streets and improve related infrastructure. Its biggest project, however, would be the Dorsey Drive interchange over the Golden Center Freeway.

At half a penny on the dollar spent on the taxes, that expense could save area drivers greater costs in the long run if the money improves streets, one study suggests.

Pavements in “poor condition” cost the average driver $383 annually because their vehicles deteriorate faster and use more gas, according to the National Transportation Research Group.

The worst city ranked by NTRG was San Jose, where residents pay an average of $705 to maintain their cars under adverse road conditions.

This week supporters of sales tax measures for the local road repairs were hoping that their months of campaigning had not been undone by a mistake in the voter information packet.

Nevada City residents were mailed information packets that had a sales tax expenditure plan for Grass Valley’s measure T mistakenly appearing alongside other information about measure S.

Grass Valley voters who should have received the expenditure plan for Measure T instead received nothing about their sales tax plan in the packets, according to County Clerk-Recorder Kathleen Smith.

Smith said mailers would be sent to residents to correct the mistake. “I’m sorry but it happens,” said Smith, who was elected to her post in June. Smith came under fire from some voters for the mistake.

For details of each measure, and arguments for against them, turn to the stories that follow.

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To contact Staff Writer Josh Singer, e-mail joshs@theunion.com or call 477-4234. To contact Staff Writer Trina Kleist, e-mail trinak@theunion.com or call 477-4231.


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