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Tuolumne County Will Not Endorse New Road Taxes

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Sonora, CA — With several roads needing repairs, the Tuolumne County Supervisors debated whether a new series of state taxes is the solution.

On the agenda at today’s Board meeting was whether to support Senate Bill 16, which is making its way through committees in Sacramento. It was introduced by Democratic Senator Jim Beall of San Jose, and would generate around $8-billion annually for local road projects, of which around $3-million would be allocated to Tuolumne County. The proposal would notably increase the state’s gas tax by 10-cents per gallon. Diesel taxes would increase by 12-cents per gallon, and Vehicle Registration Fees by $35 annually.

Prior to the meeting, County staff members generated a letter of support for the bill, as the legislation has been praised by groups like the California State Association of Counties (CSAC).

The County Supervisors, however, collectively decided to refrain from sending the letter, and take no action at this time. Supervisor Evan Royce was the most vocal, calling the plan “offensive.” He said while it’s critical that the county receives road dollars, the way the state is dealing with it is, “garbage.” He said the state has taken gas tax revenues over recent years that were supposed to be set aside for roads, but they were raided for other services.

When it was clear the Supervisors did not support SB 16, the conversation shifted towards whether to send a letter in opposition, instead.  District Four Supervisor John Gray seemed to offer some caution to Royce. Gray said, “There’s a dilemma, do we want to get our roads fixed, or do we want to take a political stand, and use the word you didn’t want to say, that we’re getting screwed?”

The Supervisors collectively decided it was best to raise the concerns with CSAC, rather than the state, as the organization lobbies on behalf of the interests of California counties. The Board felt it was better approach it in that fashion than to “fight the hand the feeds you,” the state government.