“Roadway projects could face funding reduction”

Voters to decide on ballot measure to repeal gas tax

SOLEDAD — Local roadway projects benefiting from Senate Bill 1 could be in jeopardy, as a ballot measure to repeal the state gas tax will be included on the November ballot.

“A lot has been happening in the last year,” said Debbie Hale, executive director of the Transportation Agency of Monterey County (TAMC). “Monterey County’s been fortunate in terms of transportation funding in two ways. We had our Measure X adopted by voters in November 2016, and the taxes didn’t start flowing until April 2017.”

At the same time, Senate Bill 1 raised the gas tax to account for inflation. Prior to the bill, the gas tax had not been raised in more than 20 years, and Monterey County roadways reflected it.

In Soledad, Measure X funds are expected to be used for the Pinnacles Parkway Project, but TAMC is hoping that SB 1 funding will also be available for the project.

Currently there are several ongoing roadway projects, such as the Metz Road Traffic Calming Project and local street maintenance projects, as well as TAMC’s bicycle pedestrian way-finding program, which would direct visitors to Pinnacles National Park.

“The projects Soledad has set up for funding, like Pinnacles Parkway, while there is Measure X money, if there isn’t SB 1 funding, that project could very much be delayed or downscaled,” Hale said. “Our estimate for the City of Soledad is getting about a million dollars a year in SB 1 funding and Measure X money is approximately double that.”

Proposition 6, a measure slated to appear on the Nov. 6 General Election ballot, aims to repeal the gas tax. According to Hale, the TAMC Board of Directors has taken an opposing stance on Prop 6, with the League of Cities joining that side as well. Hale also said the funding could be cut in half if Prop 6 is passed.

“Being able to provide estimates of what the statewide funding is, what the local funding is for our communities is really important,” said Mayor Pro-Tem Alejandro Chavez. “If you look at the City of Soledad, we’re talking about a million dollars from SB 1 dollars that comes into our community.”