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Endorsement Watch: Measure W

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.

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CLICK HERE for the SmartVoter summary of Measure W.

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.

10 Responses to “Endorsement Watch: Measure W”

  1. Frank says:

    so now it will be up to $20, sorry can’t vote for this

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  2. Stephen Fuller-Rowell says:

    I will be voting for Measure W. $10 a year is less than the cost of gas for a round trip to San Francisco.

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  3. Scott Baley says:

    Bradley -

    This measure funds road, transit and safe routes to schools programs. It is a good thing to ensure kids are able to get to and from school safely. Considering the recent deaths of children going to and from school, I am shocked by your attacks on a group trying to make it safer for our community’s children.

    We need local funding for transportation. The state has cut or eliminated most of the funds for transportation and this funding will be vital to ensuring we can compete for the grants needed to keep our streets and transportation programs running.

    I hope you can look past your bias (and Santa Rosa centric thinking) to see the benefit Measure W will have for Sonoma County.

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  4. Really Big Fish says:

    Wow…the PD is moving right along in common sense evaluations. Absolutely NO on W!!! Because the politicans and adminstrators can not budget properly they just add a silly tax to everyhting to support thier special interest groups.

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  5. Bradley Miller says:

    The Citizen Advisory group for the SCTA voted down the $10 fee. That does it for me. Vote no on this unfair tax that charges auto users to pay for bike paths and to pay the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition to go into our schools to \educate\ our kids and of course induct them into that special interest group. The SCBC is a political lobbying group that should not be in the schools even if they are teaching bicycle safety. Schools should have a firewall to keep lobbyists out and leave the educating of students to the teachers.

    Mayor Gorin and vice-mayor Gary Wysocky are running our city, poorly, and are constantly putting the interests of the SCBC ahead of everything else. The 1 million dollar bike boulevard is a good example of misdirected funding.

    Vehicle licensing funds should only be used to support roads and automobile safety. This $10 fee is a ripoff put forward by the Bicycle Coalition that stands to receive millions if this is passed. What a travesty. The citizen group voted no and so should you.

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  6. @zuma says:

    I think you must have your ballot measures mixed up. Measure W is a county measure, you must be thinking of the city sales tax proposal.

    Measure W is a Yes for me, we need to keep a good transportation system. Measure P is a No, they need to get those police pensions under control first.

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  7. Dan Delgado says:

    I’m voting no. $10 for this, $18 for that, 1/4 cent for the other thing. What a hodge podge way of financing our community. The only thing that will force politicians into making necessary and difficult decisions is to starve them into it. Giving them more money, even if earmarked for a special project, only frees up money formerly allocated to that project for other things. Put all these projects and programs on the table at the same time. Let their proponents make their best arguments and then let’s make some real decisions about what we want and what we can afford.

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  8. Mike says:

    Good call PD. Given the state of affairs in Sonoma County politics, we can’t be sure the tax wouldn’t be misdirected into a favorite “green project” or spent on the SMART train or some other pet money pit. Yea, we need better roads, but we need more accountability at the local level before it is authorized.

    Vote no on W.

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  9. zuma says:

    The city had the chance to use the stimulus money received last year to improve roads, etc.

    However, as the elected council members owed the city employee labor unions, they spent it on giving raises to the already overpaid workers.

    But the council owed it and had to pay for the votes they bought!

    Perhaps they will cut salaries this year and fix the roads and stop giving freebies to all the illegals they have given amnesty . Get the illegals out of schools, hospitals and welfare lines and the money to fix roads will miraculously appear!

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  10. Scott Baley says:

    Everything about this editorial seems correct except the recommendation. We need local transportation money that the state cannot take away from Sonoma County.

    I am voting Yes on this Measure.

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