Measure W would impose a $10 vehicle license fee to fill potholes, build more bicycle and pedestrian safety projects, create a countywide Safe Routes to School program and improve local bus service in Sonoma County.
The Press Democrat Editorial Board opposed Measure W on Sept. 29. A copy of their editorial is attached below. Did the PD Editorial Board make the right pick? Disagree with the choice? Post a comment to share your thoughts with other members of the community.
Want more information?
PD Editorial: No on W
Good ideas are outstripping the ability to shoulder new taxes
If you drive on local roads, you know it can be a bumpy ride.
If you ride a bus, you know that service has been cut back.
If you have kids, you want them to get to school and back safely.
And if you aren’t ready to pay another fee for better roads and more bike paths and more buses in this economic climate, you’re not alone. We aren’t either. The Press Democrat is recommending a no vote on Measure W.
Measure W on the Nov. 2 ballot would add $10 to your annual license plate renewal fee. The surcharge would raise an estimated $5 million a year for the Sonoma County Transportation Authority.
The authority has crafted an expenditure plan that includes repaving streets, improving traffic signals, programs to encourage children to walk and bike to school as a way to reduce traffic congestion, incentives for car-pooling and expansion of transit service, potentially including emloyer- or school-based passes.
They’re all fine objectives.
Suzanne Smith, the authority’s executive director, says the $10 fee would offset reductions in state funding and help secure grants and state and federal funding for aspects of the expenditure plan. She compares it to Measure M, the voter-approved transportation sales tax that has leveraged millions of dollars for the ongoing widening of Highway 101. “This is a smaller scale,” Smith said, “but the same rings true.”
She’s probably right.
But there isn’t always money for every good idea, especially in these tough times.
Californians already are paying extra income and sales taxes to help balance the state budget. Voters in Cotati and Rohnert Park raised sales taxes to save local programs. In Santa Rosa, voters are being asked to do the same. And voters statewide are being asked to pay an $18 license plate surcharge to pay for state parks. Many people also are being hit up for extra money for schools, charities, senior centers and swimming pools, even as they struggle with their own lost jobs, pay cuts and furloughs.
Bills allowing counties to seek special vehicle license fees for local roads and transit failed several times in the Legislature before one passed and was signed into law last year. Sonoma is one of seven Bay Area counties that jumped at the opportunity to ask voters to adopt a local license fee.
We don’t doubt that there are worthy transit programs lacking only for funding, but Measure W comes at the wrong time. The Press Democrat recommends a no vote.