Road Tax, District Elections on Turlock City Council Agenda

A packed agenda awaits the Turlock City Council on Tuesday, and a proposed road tax and shift to district elections could await Turlock voters depending on the council’s actions.

The long-discussed half-cent sales tax to benefit roads would generate about $5.6 million in revenues each year, and $39. 2 million over the seven-year life of the tax. The tax would be overseen by an independent body, and revoked if Stanislaus County adopts a countywide transportation tax.

At least 98 percent of tax revenues would go directly toward street repairs in the City of Turlock. Each quadrant of Turlock would see some repairs each year, with nearly every major street seeing at least some improvement. The repairs would follow an expenditure plan, a tentative version of which is available here.

A controversial aspect of the original proposal, devoting 2 percent of revenues toward the City of Turlock’s bus system, may not move forward. Two options were prepared for the Turlock City Council, allowing councilmembers to draft a tax with or without the transit system funding.

Should two-thirds of the council endorse the road tax, it will return for a final vote on June 10. The council will also consider putting the tax on the Nov. 4 ballot at that time.

After numerous community meetings and months of planning the Turlock City Council will also decide on a map for a proposed shift to elect councilmembers by-district. The City of Turlock is considering the switch to district elections, rather than the current at-large system of elections, due to potential lawsuits; district elections are considered to be more fair to minority groups, which may be oppressed under the current voting system.

Three maps of potential voting districts were drafted, splitting Turlock into quadrants using three different philosophies. Each quadrant would vote for only one councilmember, who would be tasked with representing that district.

Plan A attempts to create four evenly sized districts. Plan B looks to prevent splitting neighborhoods between districts. And Plan C emphasizes the importance of downtown, giving each Turlock City Councilmember a share of Downtown Turlock as part of his or her district.

Audiences at two recent community forums, held at the Turlock Public Safety Center and Pitman High School, endorsed the Plan A map. That map received 55 votes, while Plan C finished second with 39 votes and Plan B finished third with 18 votes.

The Turlock City Council will make the final decision on a district map Tuesday. After Tuesday’s vote, the measure will return for a final, largely ceremonial vote June 10.

The move to district elections will still require a vote of the people of Turlock, expected in the Nov. 4 election. Should Turlockers vote down the measure, a lawsuit is likely unavoidable; attorneys will view the vote as evidence of racism.

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

  • Create a new parcel containing only the Brandon Koch Memorial Skate Park.The City of Turlock is attempting to sell the former Turlock Police Department, located at 900 N. Palm Ave., to the Turlock Irrigation District. That parcel, however, includes both the War Memorial and the Brandon Koch Memorial Skate Park.TID was set to buy all three, but the skatepark was built using California Park Bond funds, and cannot be sold at this time. By dividing the parcel, the City of Turlock can move forward with the sale of the Police Department and War Memorial, while retaining the skate park until the land can be sold, at a currently appraised value of $240,000. The skate park would then be moved to Donnelly Park.
  • Approve an expansion of the Fields of Ice skating rink, a seasonal ice skating rink operated by R.A.M. Farms. The expansion would double the rink’s size at its 716 N. Daubenberger Rd. location.The expansion will still require a final vote of the Stanislaus County Planning Commission, as the rink is not in Turlock City Limits. The county is expected to uphold the Turlock City Council’s decision, whatever it may be.
  • Accept a supplemental, $19,000 donation from the Swanson family to construct a dog park at Swanson-Centennial Park on Countryside Drive. The supplemental donation comes in addition to a prior $35,000 donation, as the dog park will cost more than expected to construct.The park, estimated at $45,000, will cost $66,526. The remaining $12,526 will be paid by the City of Turlock using Park Development Funds. United Paving Maintenance, of Hughson, will build the park, if approved in a second agenda item.
  • Approve the creation of a mobile application for the City of Turlock Police Department.The free app is intended to improve relations between police and citizens, and address the impacts of prisoner realignment. The app would allow users to see news, crime tips, alerts, photos, videos, and crime maps, and to report probationers.Turlock will pay $5,000 to develop the app, plus $5,000 in annual licensing fees.
  • Discuss the 2014-2015 City of Turlock non-general fund budget. The final 2014-2015 budget adoption is currently scheduled for June 10.
  • Pay $22,000 to the Stanislaus County Council of Governments, the City of Turlock’s share of a feasibility study investigating a new South County Corridor linking Turlock to Patterson and Interstate 5.
  • Conduct an annual review to determine if the City of Turlock’s cap on homeless shelter beds, 200, should be increased. Currently 98 beds have been permitted in a specifically designated area, with 49 of those operational. A further 37 beds have been discussed.
  • Adopt the new State of California building codes.
  • Issue proclamations in honor of Disability Awareness Month, June 2014, and Vera Sahlstrom, former Turlock City Clerk.
  • Adjust term limit expiration dates for Parks, Arts and Recreation Commission members, following the merger of the Parks, Recreation and Community Programs Commission and the Turlock City Arts Commission.
  • Hear reports on water use, building fees, the Turlock Business Incentive Program, deficit spending, and board, commission, and committee vacancies
  • Receive the Turlock Fire Department Annual Report.
  • In closed session, discuss one case of anticipated litigation.


Comments 3

  1. T says:
    Two percent to fund empty buses running around Turlock?
    You do not have my vote for a road tax if that is included.
  2. tax to death says:
    the city hasn't spent the taxes they already have on roads and now they want to tax us more. i vote no. save the tax payers $60,000 the city will spend to put it on the ballot and go fix something
  3. Waste says:
    It's a waste of time and money to put on the election ballot juts for everyone to keep saying we don't want to be taxed more when Turlock hasn't spent the taxes we already pay on road repair.

    I vote no now.

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