Sacramento Transportation Authority Surveying Voters To Gauge Possible Sales Tax Increase

November 29, 2015 |

Although they have not yet determined whether they will place a possible county-wide tax measure on next year's ballot, the Sacramento Transportation Authority (STA) is conducting a survey to test the waters.
As part of their marketing effort, the Sacramento Transit
Authority has been installing signs throughout the county
reminding voters of how their tax dollars are being spent.
This sign was installed  earlier this year on westbound 
Sheldon Road and Highway 99 in Elk Grove. 

The poll, dubbed "tell us how you want your transportation tax dollars spent," asks respondents a host of questions related to various transportation needs in Sacramento County. Many of the questions are geared to car transportation with little emphasis on mass transit such as bus or light rail.

Typical of the questions is one that asks the respondents what are their highest priority of taxes paid to Sacramento County. The possible responses include education, police protection, road improvements, congestion relief, parks and recreation, arts, services for the needy, or flood control. 

At their August meeting, the STA board of directors approved a $600,000 expenditure to conduct surveys and gather data to see if a possible sales tax increase measure is viable. By state law, any sales tax increase placed on a ballot needs a two-third majority for approval. 

For Elk Grove, funding from either a possible STA county-wide tax increase or a locally sponsored one is crucial to help plug deferred maintenance costs on Elk Grove streets and roads. According to Elk Grove Public Works manager Richard Shepard, the city is deferring $8 million annually in road maintenance.

In approving the $600,000 expenditure, the STA directors said they have until next July to decide if they will place it on the ballot. STA board member Elk Grove Vice Mayor Pat Hume noted that if STA decides against putting it on the ballot, Elk Grove may seek a tax increase on their own. 

"In Elk Grove we recognize that if this does not go forward we have to have a plan-b with something because we have a gap in our needs versus our resources," he said.

Over the last several years, the Elk Grove City Council has not heeded Shepard's advice and has consciously decided to ignore road repairs (See video below). Should either measure not be placed on the ballot or if they are and not approved by voters, the city council has no plan on how it will handle the $8 million annual road maintenance deficit. 

As the city council is counting on funding from an STA tax increase to plug gaping budget holes, in the past that funding was not used as a primary source of maintenance, but rather for major infrastructure improvements in Elk Grove. Among the notable projects receiving STA funding were new interchanges on Highway 99 at Grant Line Road and Sheldon Road.   

The STA survey can be completed here        

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