Here is the proposed funding plan for the Long-Term Road Plan adopted by the Board of Supervisors in June.
The centerpiece is a 1/4 cent county-wide sales tax increase for 20 years that will generate about $8.7 million per year for the county to use on pavement preservation.
In addition, the nine cities in Sonoma County would receive about $11 million per year for badly needed street repairs. (Santa Rosa would get approximately $5.5 million per year and Petaluma $1.9 million). A maintenance of effort provision would require the county and the cities to maintain their current levels of general funds for roads.
This means that the county would be committed to sustaining the $8.0 million from the general fund and $2.2 million from the refuse franchise fees for a total of $10.2 from the general fund each year for pavement preservation.
SOSroads congratulates the supervisors for continuing to commit $5.4 million for road maintenance and as well as $10.2 million for pavement preservation from the general fund each year.
Those funds, together with $1.8 in federal funds and the new sales tax revenue would make over $20 million available each year for pavement preservation (Summary, p. 4).
SOSroads thinks the proposed plan is a major step forward, but we have three concerns.
First, some want to divert funds from rehabilitating roads to transit projects. Given the dire condition of the county road system, we think this would be a mistake and sends a confusing message to voters.
Second, we think the general fund commitment should be indexed to inflation. The failure to index road repair and maintenance funds to inflation is a major cause of our current problems.
Third, we have advocated for a 10 year plan, given too much can change over 20. We hope there might be ways of front-loading some of this work before the roads deteriorate further and are more expensive to rehabilitate.