Taking its Toll

Theresa Wright of TAMC stands on Hilby Avenue in Seaside, where the pavement shows signs of “alligatoring,” evidence that it’s under stress from heavy traffic. TAMC's Measure X is expected to generate $20 million a year.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB 705 Wednesday, paving the way for some major repaving projects in Monterey and San Mateo counties. 

The bill carves out a special exception to state tax policy for those two counties' transportation agencies, which intend to ask voters to approve a sales-tax increase at the polls in 2016.

In the case of the Transportation Agency for Monterey County, the plan is to ask for three-eighths of a penny. But TAMC officials ran up against a road block when they realized that the city of Greenfield is asking voters to increase an existing citywide sales tax.

TAMC had been banking on the Greenfield tax staying the same. If the three-quarter-cent increase Greenfield officials are asking voters to approve is passed, it would bring local sales taxes in Greenfield within one-eighth of a cent of the allowable 2-cent threshold set for all California jurisdictions. 

SB 705 allows TAMC to exceed that 2-percent state cap

The bill was a so-called "gut-and-amend bill," meaning its original intent—which had to do with charter school financing—was scrapped entirely, and it became a vehicle for the transportation tax loophole late in the session when TAMC and San Mateo County discovered they couldn't ask voters for the taxes they wanted. 

Assemblyman Mark Stone, D-Scotts Valley, became a co-author of SB 705. TAMC hired a lobbyist in Sacramento to help push the bill through in just the last few weeks of the legislative session.

"Efforts to get this bill before the governor were a collaboration with San Mateo County, our legislative delegation and the support from each of the 12 Monterey County city councils and the County Board of Supervisors, plus Monterey-Salinas Transit," TAMC Director Debbie Hale said in a statement.

Correction: This post has been updated to reflect that the city of Greenfield is asking voters to approve a three-quarter-cent sales tax. The city is not asking to extend an existing tax, as previously stated.

Sara Rubin loves long public meetings, red pens and reading (on newsprint). She has been editor of the Monterey County Weekly since 2016, and has been on staff since 2010.

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