Ballot Measure to Raise Local Gasoline Tax Wins Key Support : Transportation: Voter approval of extra half-cent levy could generate another $130 million for county.
A measure that would raise local sales tax half a cent to pay for road construction has the support of more than enough cities in Ventura County to place it on the November ballot.
Simi Valley, Ventura, Oxnard and Fillmore joined four other Ventura County cities this week in support of a ballot measure that would help the county take advantage of new gasoline taxes. The measure needed support from a majority of the county’s 10 cities to qualify for the ballot.
The issue now goes to the County Board of Supervisors on July 2 for final approval, said Mary Travis, a senior planner with the County Transportation Commission. “Right now, it looks like we’re going full-speed-ahead,” Travis said.
But Travis and other county officials concede that voters may be reluctant to approve another tax increase only a few months after the passage of Proposition 111 in the June election. Under the new law, the state gasoline and diesel tax will increase by 5 cents a gallon beginning Aug. 1, then go up a penny every year for the next four years.
The gas tax is expected to generate an estimated $18.5 billion for statewide transportation projects, with Ventura County receiving about $200 million for road construction over the next 10 years.
But Travis said that about $2 billion of the new tax dollars will be distributed to those counties that can come up with matching funds. She said if voters were to approve the half-cent sales tax, Ventura County could receive another $130 million for roadwork over the next 10 years.
If not, she said, “every time you pump gas into your car, you will be pumping money into other counties that tap into these funds.”
State transportation officials have said they need about $1.3 billion to complete long-delayed road construction and maintenance in the county.
Some high-priority projects that will benefit from Proposition 111 funds include the link between the Simi Valley and Moorpark freeways, estimated to cost $50 million; the widening of the Saticoy Bridge on California 118, at a cost of $15.7 million; and the widening of California 126 from Fillmore to the Los Angeles County line, estimated to cost $27.3 million.
Ventura Vice Mayor Donald Villeneuve said that the county should take advantage of the opportunity to get a bigger piece of the Proposition 111 money and approve the half-cent sales tax increase.
“The amount of money we spent this year in highway construction in the state is the same as in 1948, so we have a lot of catching up to do,” Villeneuve said.
Of the county’s 10 cities, the two remaining--Thousand Oaks and Ojai--were scheduled to vote Tuesday night on whether to support placing the sales tax proposal on the ballot.
Although approval by a majority of the cities is sufficient to send the measure to the Board of Supervisors, Travis said the Ventura County Transportation Commission “would like to see unanimous approval from all the cities.”