Gary Soiseth: Why I Can’t Support Turlock’s Road Tax, Yet

The following article is an Op-Ed written by Gary Soiseth, a candidate for the Mayor of Turlock.

“He is anti-roads.” “He is anti-tax.” “He is too Republican.” All are false claims that will be waged against my campaign for mayor of Turlock because of my current criticism of Measure B, a proposed half-cent sales tax for the next seven years to fund Turlock road improvements.

Turlock’s roads are indisputably failing. Nearly six years ago, City Hall first learned of its woefully inadequate road condition ratings, yet they didn’t make the proper investments in repairs.

With only 50% of Turlock’s roads in self-taxing assessment districts, there has been no significant discussion or action on long-term solutions that bring the other half of the City – which includes our older, more socio-economically disadvantaged neighborhoods – into their own assessment district.

Within City Hall’s budget adoption process, there has been no public “line-by-line” process of revenue and expenditure projections to prove to the public that Turlock’s coffers are indeed empty for roads. And until recently, there has been no line-item within the Council’s $32 million discretionary fund for road repair. A recently allocated $50,000 for 2014 is far from the $10 million annual projection needed to bring our roads up to above average conditions.

Measure B is an initiative that doesn’t guarantee the half-cent sales tax raised will be entirely spent on local Turlock roads. A single clause in its Title 3, Chapter 11 states that Measure B will expire “upon the operative date of a validly enacted countywide transportation tax measure.” If Stanislaus County puts forward its own measure and it passes in 2016, Turlock’s half-cent sales tax authority leaves our own City Hall and folds into the Stanislaus Council of Governments (StanCOG) to be disseminated through StanCOG’s yet-to-be determined spending formula.

This clause means that Ms. Smith, a fixed income senior citizen hoping to have her local cul-de-sac repaved, will vote for a tax that may or may not repave the asphalt right outside her door. As it stands, her cul-de-sac is listed in year five on the list of priorities; because of the above mentioned clause, projects listed in years three through seven are not guaranteed.

Instead, any funds raised, which Measure B’s official title states will be spent on “pothole repair” and “existing city street improvements,” could be spent on North County Corridor or Highway 132 improvements – noble economic endeavors for the region, but far outside Turlock and not true to Measure B’s own title and intent.

While I believe local roads’ issues are better solved in a cooperative manner at a regional level where matching funds are available, it’s disingenuous to ask Turlock’s residents to increase their sales tax rates to a county-high of 8.1% while knowing that, in less than two years, the amount of revenue generated for local Turlock roads could decrease dramatically from an estimated $5.6 million to $2.7 million (Source: StanCOG’s 2014 spending formula).

Due to these reasons, I cannot support Measure B until I’m assured that the citizens of Turlock will receive the estimated $5.6 million per year for local “pothole repair” and “city street improvements” for the full seven years of the proposed tax. I’m waiting for this guarantee and will be more than willing to support the initiative once I’m assured Turlock’s taxpayers will receive their expected $39.5 million for the life of this tax.

Turlock deserves a mayor that will question the status quo in pursuit of sound public policy, a mayor who will ask thoughtful and often tough questions and a mayor who will be an avid defender of Turlock’s tax dollars. This is why I’m running for our city's top office and this is how I’ll conduct myself as Turlock’s next leader.

Comments 21

  1. HMMM says:
    If Turlock's roads need repair and there aren't funds (even though we have already been taxed for them) then WHY is the city manager getting a $40,000 raise for no reason at all?
  2. ????? says:
    Take a look at the general fund budget & you will realize most of the funds are paying employees... Do you plan to cut jobs to pay for roads??? What is your plan to fix roads??
  3. Laura Riddell says:
    Go Gary - our community needs some serious foresight.
  4. Joe B says:
    So, let's get this straight. We're planning to tax EVERYONE for road repair, when some people are ALREADY taxed for road repair? The only logical option is to create self-taxing assessment districts for the 50% of roads that are failing. That seems to be working for the 50% of roads that aren't failing.
  5. So true says:
    Sorry Joe. That would make too much sense.
  6. Guest says:
    Thank you for explaining yourself Gary. This makes sense(cents). All the points that you make I agree with. I do not think the Stanislaus County should be controlling what we do with some of our road tax money and we need to stop taxing ourselves so much. I am on a fixed income and do not get any more money even though my expenses keep going up and up.
  7. soiseth says:
    is a welfare farmer sucking up water for his almonds which also keeps land out of regular peoples hands. just another physiocratic moocher who has never held a non government job.
  8. kim says:
    Right on. Why do we have to squeeze out even more money! Yes our roads are bad. The city of turloçk just increased, but we have to ration our water, PGE is rising, groceries are out rageous, I work full time and my pay doesn't increase to meet the demand already encroaching. You just keep trying to bleed a turnip with all your tax increases. Let the city tighten its budget and figure out how to get the job done. It's ludicrous!
  9. Don't forget this says:
    A public safety worker will pay about $250,000 toward retirement over a 30 year career. If that worker retires at 50 and lives to be near 80, he will have withdrawn over $2.5 million in retirement. See the problem? And you wonder why there's no money for streets.
  10. Do the Math says:
    Last time I checked 5.6 x 7 = 39.2 not 39.6. Not sure I can take what this guy has to say seriously when he cant even use a calculator...
  11. Al Seaton says:
    So polished rhetoric aside, What I'm hearing you say about our roads is that you don't want to the Johnny Fix Late-lies in the latter years of the 7 year tax get hosed (technical term) by Stan Co if they wake up and fix the county roads. We both agree, roads make us competitive for our base businesses,and to fix the vitals first may cause other non-vital and non-assessment areas to be missed by virtue of time and ranking. All thisif and when the tax goes county. We still sit with crappy side roads. You say if it were changed, it could work. Can you honestly say that this could be changed? How?
  12. Hey Al Seaton says:
    How did the city of Turlock fix their roads 40 years ago? Did we have a road tax then? Please answer that question and we can move the discussion forward?
  13. Ester B says:
    I think Al doesn't know the answer. Really, can anyone answer that question? That is a great question. Maybe Turlock City News can investigate it.
  14. John Q. Fransen says:
    Recently, the Bee published Brad Christian`s letter detailing Turlock City Councilwoman Amy Bublak`s unqualified bid for county assessor. I agree with Christian.

    What disturbed me is Bublak, a sworn police officer, facing numerous charges of illegal activity at the time, cared more about furthering her own political career than what was best for our community. Thank goodness our county voters saw through Bublak`s campaign of smoke and mirrors, to not elect her.

    Now, some of the same people who supported and endorsed Bublak, are doing the same for another inexperienced and unqualified candidate; Gary Soiseth, running for Mayor of Turlock.

    Congressman Jeff Denham, politician Curt Andre, and businessman Matt Swanson, shame on you!

    Soiseth has padded, both, his resume and experience. He claims to have been deployed to Afghanistan but, never actually served in the military. He says he was a CSU Professor, though possesses no PhD, a requirement for the position.

    If Soiseth is willing to misrepresent himself before the election, what could we possibly expect from him if elected?

    I urge the citizens of Turlock, like me, to adhere to Brad Christian`s advice; if these people endorse anyone in the next election, vote for the other candidate.
  15. Dear John Q Fransen says:
    You sound like a washed up Democrat ready to pile on more taxes to the good citizens of Turlock. You are making up desperate lies about Gary so that your man Mike "the Tax Man" Brem can get elected and plunge this city into chaos.
    Please DO NOT VOTE for Mike the Tax Man. but vote for Bold Leadership. Vote Soieth.
  16. Kim Briggs says:
    As a citizens of Turlock I have carefully watched the political process of this community over many years. After weighing many factors important to me and my family, I will vote for a Gary Soiseth as Mayor of the City of Turlock. I truly believe this city needs a leader who hasn't made alliances over the years with special interest groups and doesn't settle for the status quo with today's slap on the back good old boy mentality. It's time for a change with a new vision of fairness and integrity and a leader who wants what is best for the citizens of Turlock instead of what benefits a select few. Go Gary and Good Luck!
  17. Pay Attention says:
    Kim - look who is supporting Gary... Mark Hall.. Amy Bublak.. Matt Swanson and on and on and on....sounds like alliances, agendas and special interests to me...
  18. Kim Briggs says:
    Pay Attention... You left out Dr. Kurt Andre, our former Mayor who has been mentoring Gary Soiseth in his desire to lead the City of Turlock to success. If Gary proves to be a likeness of Dr. Andre then I will consider Turlock truly blessed. There may be those supporting Gary who may not meet your standard and fortunately you are welcome to vote your choice however my vote is not based on my dislike of supporters but for the desire a better community.
  19. Still Paying Attention says:
    I forgot about Curt Andre.... he did nothing about roads for 16+ years... didnt address spending issues.... and his policies led to deficit spending.... yeah, lets have more of that!!
  20. T says:
    No layoffs under Curt Andres watch, no letting employees go because of politics and he did not create a job for his campaign manager. Oh Curt you are such a bad boy...
  21. Alan says:
    Curt didn't want to tak Turlockians. Mike "the Taxman" Brem, democrat, wants to tax tax tax tax tax tax tax us to death. Don't forget about the democrat Forrest White. He also wants to tax us. Just ask him.

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