Note: In the interest of providing educational information to voters and encouraging community dialogue, the Citrus Heights Sentinel has given an equal opportunity to both “yes” and “no” campaigns to submit an opinion piece on Measure B. See the “No on Measure B” article below, or click here to read the “Yes on Measure B” op-ed.
By Debra Desrosiers, Vice-Chair
‘Don’t Double The Tax – No on Measure B’
By now you’ve probably received some very slick mailings from Sacramento Transportation Authority (STA) telling you about the fabulous improvements they have planned for your roads. Many of these mailers are being paid for by Measure A money. What is Measure A? Measure A is the half-cent sales tax you are already paying for roads. Since 2009, Measure A has collected over $669,000,000 of our money to pay for roads and transit services. Last year, Measure A collected over $109,000,000 from us. How are your roads looking? How is your bus service in Citrus Heights?
Measure B has been carefully crafted by politicians to collect an additional half-cent sales tax from you for 30 YEARS to go towards roads and transit. The proponents have a catchy phrase to grab your attention, “Fix it First,” under which 75% of the funds would go to roads they have carefully selected; yours is probably not one of them. The 75% portion going to “Fix it First” can be changed or diverted to other projects. The Measure B ballot language provides that local governments can “authorize the reduction in the 75% Fix it First commitment to maintenance and rehabilitation for the purpose of directing a higher share of the jurisdiction’s allocation to specified high priority roadway or transit capital projects.” There’s no guarantee whatsoever that your roads are going to be fixed first, but it sounds good, doesn’t it? You can read the ballot language yourself at SacTA.org.
Measure B mimics an oversight committee used in Measure A, the “Independent Taxpayer Oversight Committee.” If you look at those slick mailers, you’ll see that STA and the Oversight Committee are promising to perform financial audits and performance audits, just like in Measure A. The problem is that the Oversight Committee for Measure A has never conducted a promised performance audit for the spending of our Measure A taxes.
STA also claims that Measure B funds spent on big capital projects will always be matched up with state and federal matching funds. But STA made that same promise in Measure A and then failed to keep it. The result: a $43 million Measure A-funded Regional Transit “Train to Nowhere” which the federal government refused to help fund (for very sound reasons). In fact, STA admits that it doesn’t even monitor whether big capital projects draw the support of state or federal matching funds.
You’ve heard people say “follow the money,” right? Let’s follow the money that is pushing for this new tax. You can look it up on the Sacramento County Registrar of Voter’s website, but we’ll save you the effort. The campaign behind Measure B is being funded by politicians, road engineering companies, construction companies, builders, developers, companies that issue environmental reports, bus manufacturers and light-rail car builders. You get the idea – the companies who stand to directly profit from raising your taxes. Those of us opposed to Measure B are a concerned group of ordinary citizens. Like you, we are concerned about the environment and relieving traffic congestion. We’re also concerned that our children will still be paying for this tax for 30 years. We’re concerned about how this regressive tax will affect poor people, senior citizens, the disabled, others on fixed incomes, as well as small businesses trying to keep their doors open. We are all the ones who have to pay.
Measure A still has 23 years remaining to collect your money. That’s over 3 billion dollars local governments will have to spend on roads. Maybe politicians need to take a closer look at how those funds are being spent and use that money to “Fix it First.” Eye on Sacramento did an extensive report on the spending of Measure A funds; you can read the report at EyeOnSacramento.org. What was truly amazing is that the City of Citrus Heights has over $2,700,000 in unspent Measure A funds. Only 2.53% of the funds raised for Capital Projects for the entire County of Sacramento went to Citrus Heights, which brings up another issue: the “Professional Advisory Group” (PAG).
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The Professional Advisory Group decides which Capital Projects receive Measure A funding. The PAG consists of public works officials from the County of Sacramento and each city in Sacramento County. They meet behind closed doors with no input from the public. They spend bond proceeds secured by your tax money, but you have no input on where it goes. Why is Citrus Heights getting such a small amount of the $371,000,000 in outstanding bond proceeds??
Before you vote on Measure B, do some reading, or just trust us…. Vote No on Measure B.
By Debra Desrosiers, Vice-Chair
Don’t Double The Tax – No on Measure B
What do you think about Measure B? Join the discussion and submit a letter to the editor: click here.
Note: the “Yes on Measure B” op-ed can be read here: “Guest Opinion: Citrus Heights needs Measure B to plan for the future”