Guest Opinion: Citrus Heights needs Measure B to plan for the future

Road work ahead sign // Citrus Heights Sentinel

File photo, road work construction sign. // Citrus Heights Sentinel

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 “Yes on Measure B” article below, or click here to read the “No on Measure B” op-ed.

By Mel Turner, Citrus Heights Councilman–
When you cast your vote, whether you do it by mail or at the ballot box, it is critical that you find Measure B and mark ‘Yes.’ Our Department of General Services in Citrus Heights has done a great job using what funding is available to maintain our roads, but Citrus Heights still has a large backlog of streets that get worse every year because we do not have adequate funding for their maintenance.

Streets begin to deteriorate the minute they are put into use and there are 235 miles of roads in Citrus Heights alone. The gas tax is our normal source for road maintenance funding and due to an increase in the population, adoption of electric and hybrid vehicles and inflation, the gas tax no longer provides enough funding to keep up with our needs as a city. In fact, buying power of the gas tax for local road maintenance has dropped about 40%.

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Our solution to meet this gap is Measure B. Measure B prioritizes maintenance, with 75% of the funds in the first five years dedicated to filling potholes, repairing and repaving local streets, and redesigning intersections for better traffic flow. As your elected representative on the Sacramento Transportation Authority (STA) board, I work with other locally elected officials to ensure that we “Fix it First.” Citrus Heights will be allocated roughly $117 million dollars that can only be spent on transportation projects approved in the expenditure plan on the ballot. We’ve included road operation, bicycle and pedestrian improvements on Antelope Road, Greenback Lane, Sunrise Boulevard, San Juan Avenue, and Auburn Boulevard. Each of these projects also includes safety improvements to meet Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines. There is also funding in Measure B for Paratransit, to help disabled, veterans, and seniors move around safely.

In addition, there are regional projects outlined in Measure B: specifically the widening of the Capital City Freeway between J Street and Watt Avenue. While not located in Citrus Heights, I can’t imagine anyone who hasn’t been stuck in this bottleneck. Having a consistent source of funding for these larger transportation projects is crucial for leveraging match-funding from state and federal sources. Without a local source of revenue, we don’t get a dime to help pay for these larger strategic projects or important local projects.

The additional funding from Measure B would come from a ½ cent sales tax increase that would be implemented throughout Sacramento County. This is happening at the same time the ¼ cent sales tax from Proposition 30 is expiring. Our net increase is only a ¼ cent and the state or federal governments can’t touch the funds. We’ll have local control for local road maintenance. Funding has been slashed and dried up and our backlog grows every year. Road conditions get worse and more expensive the longer maintenance is deferred. Measure B is an opportunity to make significant progress in eliminating the backlog.

The funding in Measure B cannot be diverted; it must be spent on transportation projects as listed in the expenditure plan. This is required by law and is an important taxpayer protection. Also included in the language of Measure B are yearly audits by an independent taxpayer oversight committee. These audits ensure that the funds allocated out from the STA are spent on the voter-approved projects.

What happens without Measure B? First and foremost, we must defer more transportation projects because our normal funding source will continue to produce less every year. Potholes will get larger, cracks in the asphalt will widen. It will take longer to implement bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements. Local roads will continue to lag in quality as we focus what funding we do have on major streets that see the most traffic. Our road quality will continue to cost the average driver over $2000 per year in wasted gas, wasted time and extra vehicle maintenance.

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With Measure B, we will see an immediate influx of funding dedicated to improving our roads and relieving traffic. We will have local control of funding to address larger strategic regional projects. We will be investing in local jobs and our local economy. Most importantly, Measure B provides a transportation plan for the future of our city. Everyone agrees that some of our roads and bridges are in bad condition. First responders, business and labor, nearly every local elected official, and environmental groups, support Measure B.

Help us plan for the future of Citrus Heights by ensuring we can take care of our roads. Vote Yes on Measure B.

-Councilman Mel Turner, City of Citrus Heights
Website: www.measureb-yes.com

What do you think of Measure B? Join the discussion and submit a letter to the editor: Click here.

Note: the “No on Measure B” op-ed can be read here: Guest Opinion: Here’s what they’re not telling you about Measure B”

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