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Sentinel staff report–
The 16-member Sacramento Transportation Authority board of directors on Thursday narrowly voted in favor of an $8 billion road and transit spending plan that would raise the sales tax in the county by a half-percent over the next 40 years. The proposal required at least 11 votes to pass, and passed 11-5.
The measure, known as the new Measure A, now goes to the Board of Supervisors again for a “ministerial” vote to authorize the measure to be put on the ballot in November. All five supervisors sit on the STA board, all of whom except Sue Frost voted in favor of the measure.
Both transportation board members from Citrus Heights were among the five who voted against the proposal, including the city’s vice mayor, who admittedly said he “flip-flopped” on the issue.
“I got over 700 emails against it,” said Citrus Heights Vice Mayor Steve Miller in an interview explaining his change of mind on the issue. “I don’t know how some of the directors on the STA board could ignore that.”
“It could be an economic stimulus, but I think it’s going to go down in flames,” said Miller on Saturday, referencing ongoing economic trouble related to the coronavirus. “I don’t think it’s the time.”
According to an official tally presented during the board meeting, a total of 662 emails were submitted by the public by 3 p.m. the day prior to the vote. Of those, 584 were opposed. By the time of the meeting, there were over 750 emails.
Those voting in favor of putting the tax measure on the ballot argued it would provide funding to stimulate the region’s economy with road repairs, transit projects and highway improvements. There was also a sentiment in favor of letting voters decide the matter at the ballot box in November.
“Measure A can potentially represent a tremendous economic boost to our region,” said Sacramento City Councilman Jeff Harris before casting his vote in support of putting the measure on the ballot. “…And our course our need to repair our roads and to improve public transit do not go away because of a virus.”
Elk Grove City Councilman Patrick Hume joined Frost and Miller in voting against the measure, along with Galt Mayor Paul Sandhu and Rancho Cordova Vice Mayor Garrett Gatewood.
Frost, who has spearheaded opposition to the measure and called on her constituents to send in emails to the STA board, called a vote to put the tax measure on the ballot “heartless.”
“If we as a board are going to put this on the ballot, it really makes us look heartless,” said Frost. “It’s heartless, during this time when everyone’s going through so much, to put this on the ballot.”
If passed and approved by voters in November, the tax would be in place until 2061. The new tax measure would be in addition to an existing half-percent transportation sales tax measure, also called Measure A, which was approved in 2004.
The half-percent sales tax proposal seeks to generate a projected $8.4 billion over 40 years, with roughly 60% allocated towards roads and 40% to transit.
Under the tax measure’s planned allocations, Citrus Heights would receive an estimated $193 million in direct allocations over the next four decades, according to a city staff report. The actual amount could vary since estimated revenue from the tax are based on assumptions, which did not take into consideration longer term impacts from the coronavirus, according the the STA’s executive director.
Several comments made during the meeting by officials indicated that additional polling of voters about the measure will take place, but it was unclear whether results could keep the measure from moving forward to the ballot. Frost said the cost to taxpayers of putting the measure on the ballot would be over $1 million.
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