With many local roads in disrepair and not enough money to repair them, the Santa Cruz Regional Transportation Commission voted last month to place a Santa Cruz County-specific $10 vehicle registration fee on the November 2012 ballot.
The measure’s language, including the term of the fee, is scheduled to be finalized at the commissions Aug. 2 meeting.
The commission cited unreliable and insufficient state and federal funding to maintain the county road system, but also noted it’s more economical to maintain, rather than fully repair, local roads.
RTC planner Rachel Moriconi wrote that funding from both the state and federal governments pays for about 50 percent of what is actually needed to maintain and improve roads, highways, bridges, sidewalks, bicycle facilities and public transit in the entire county.
A $10 fee would raise about $2.2 million annually, all of which would be used for projects in Santa Cruz County. The RTC took a poll in March and found that 69 percent of likely voters would be in favor of a tax to repair the county’s roads.
The county has a backlog of road projects. To bring all roads up to “good” condition, according to a road-rating system in California, would cost up to $300 million, RTC estimates. Of that $300 million, $150 million is in pavement projects only, said RTC Executive Director George Dondero. The fee would raise just over $2.2 million annually, making only a small dent in the whole deficit.
“For that reason, we’re not considering putting a sunset on this (fee),” Dondero said.
Money raised from the tax would be distributed to various parts of the county based on population. The money would be distributed to Capitola, Scotts Valley, Watsonville, Santa Cruz and the unincorporated parts of the county.
Scotts Valley, whose population makes up 4.4 percent of the county, would receive $115,000 per year, while the unincorporated portion of the county (49.4 percent) would be allotted $999,807 each year.
The RTC will have a community workshop from 4 to 6 p.m. July 12 to receive input on the proposed ballot measure. The meeting will be at the RTC’s offices, 1523 Pacific Ave., in downtown Santa Cruz.
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