Whether Turlockers are in favor of a new tax to benefit the city's roads or opposed, the time to comment is rapidly approaching.
Beginning next week, a series of meetings will be held across Turlock to receive public comment on a plan to place a road tax before Turlock voters. The proposed road tax was the highlight of Mayor John Lazar's 2013 State of the City address.
“It's easy not to do anything,” Lazar said. “It's tough to step out and make a decision, especially on this issue. No one likes taxes.”
The road tax was last discussed at a March 12 special meeting of the Turlock City Council. At that time, councilmembers wanted more public feedback on the concept, to learn whether voters would support such a tax and what form of tax they would like best.
The details of a road tax remain hazy. It could be a half-cent sales tax, or an approximately $402 per parcel annual property tax. Or it could be something else entirely.
Turlock needs a new revenue source to prevent its roads from deteriorating further, the city says. Turlock spends about $2 million annually on roads, and would need to spend about $10 million just to maintain streets at their current level.
To fully restore Turlock's streets to a “good” level would cost $100 million – well beyond the scope of any proposed tax.
It's not just the road tax on the meeting agenda: Turlockers will also be asked how they rate other items of importance to the city, from a new surface water treatment plant to a potential countywide public safety tax to expand policing efforts. Those issues, and others, could put further stress on Turlocker's pocketbooks in the months to come.
“We'd like to hear what you consider to be critical issues,” said Ron Reid, assistant to the Turlock City Manager.
The following meetings will be held to discuss the proposed road tax, and other matters of importance to Turlockers:
• 6 p.m. April 30, Dutcher Middle School
• 6 p.m. May 9, Westside Ministries
• 6 p.m. May 30, Turlock Senior Citizens Center
• 7 p.m. June 13, Pitman High School