New Sales Tax for Roads Back on Turlock City Council Agenda

TurlockCityNews.com|

An on-again, off-again measure to increase Turlock’s sales tax to fund road repairs is back on the Turlock City Council’s agenda.

On Tuesday, the council is expected to provide direction to Turlock city staff as to whether or not the city should move forward with such a tax. The measure would likely take the form of a half-cent sales tax, with all proceeds dedicated to improving Turlock’s streets.

The move to pursue a Turlock-specific road tax comes as the Stanislaus County Council of Governments abandoned plans to put a countywide road tax on the November ballot. Polling showed it was unlikely to succeed countywide, but Turlockers alone would have passed the road tax; 68 percent of Turlockers polled were in favor of the measure.

Both Turlock City Councilmember Forrest White, who sits on the StanCOG board, and Turlock Mayor John Lazar have publicly spoken in favor of a Turlock-specific road tax.

A half-cent sales tax would raise about $5 million annually. That amount alone would allow Turlock to maintain streets at their current levels, but make no improvements; past studies suggested that Turlock would need to spend $11.4 million per year for the next 20 years to improve its streets to a “good” level.

However, should Turlockers opt to tax themselves the city would suddenly have access to millions in previously unavailable state and federal road funds. Those grants could bring Turlock closer to fully funding local roads.

The staff report on Tuesday’s agenda item is short. The full report says only that the Turlock City Council is expected to, “provide direction to staff regarding possible implementation of a special or general tax increase through the use of sales tax monies as a funding source for critical infrastructure and service related issues particularly for the repair of existing city roads.”

On Tuesday, the Turlock City Council is also expected to:

  • Begin the process to allow developers to begin construction on Monte Verde, Turlock’s first new subdivision since the Great Recession. The development, owned by Florsheim Homes, would consist of 107 single-family homes on 17.84 acres near the corner of Tuolumne Road and Countryside Drive.
  • Hear a report regarding the City of Turlock’s water conservation efforts in landscaped areas.
  • Consider moving forward with a plan to create voting districts in Turlock, by which Turlock City Councilmembers would be elected.
  • Proclaim April 25 as Arbor Day, and May 12 to 16 as Bike-to-Work Week.
  • Receive special briefings from Stanislaus County District Attorney Birgit Fladager and Sheriff Adam Christianson. Both are seldom seen at Turlock City Council meetings, but both are up for reelection in June.
  • In closed session, discuss two cases of anticipated litigation. One case is identified as a construction claim dispute with Sierra Mountain Construction, Inc., regarding a delay in building the City of Turlock’s Harding Drain pump station and pipeline.
  • Approve a contract with Bergman Landscape Inc., of Hilmar, to perform landscape maintenance for nuisance abatement work. The firm would be paid no more than $15,000 annually.
  • Accept the 2012-2013 audited financial statements for the City of Turlock.

The Turlock City Council will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Yosemite Room of Turlock City Hall, 156 S. Broadway.  

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