County agency talks road tax
by Nick Rappley | Patterson Irrigator
Mar 13, 2014 | 991 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
On a scale of 100, Patterson’s road condition receives a 70 and is currently teetering on a cliff of needing major repairs if Patterson doesn’t begin spending more on maintenance, according to a report chartered by the county agency that handles transportation issues.

The Stanislaus Council of Governments—an agency that represents all nine county cities within Stanislaus County— paid for a five year study detailing the condition of roads within all cities in the county. Although not ranking among the worse, Patterson did rank just in the middle of the spectrum. So far, the studies currently show that Patterson’s roadways ranks higher than Turlock and Modesto, but fall below Riverbank and Oakdale’s standards.

The study also found that the city needed to spend $2.4 million a year on road maintenance to maintain the status quo of roads in Patterson over the next 20 years. At this time, the city only spends $350,000 for basic roadwork.

Part of a funding solution could be a half cent sales tax increase, which is being floated as an idea by StanCOG. The county increase would be shared among the 10 agencies in the county and would be divided up according to size. Patterson could expect an increase of $640,000 for roads, according to Carlos Yamzon, executive director of StanCOG. Similar measures that went to the countywide ballot in 2006 and 2008 failed to reach a two-thirds majority needed by state law to increase taxes. In 2008, the measure missed by just a few votes.

“Anyone who drives on these roads in this county has to agree we need this funding,” City Councilwoman Sheree Lustgarten said.

Councilwoman Deborah Novelli agreed.

“I’m in support of this,” Novelli added. “The condition of our roads is critical to the city.”

As the economy begins to improve, it may be time to try again, Yamzon said. The increase in funding could be used to garner matching funds in the form of grants from federal and state agencies increasing the tax’s impact, he said.

The sales tax would be expected to bring in $970 million in transportation projects over a 25 year period Yamzon told the Patterson City Council Tuesday, March 4.

The proposal calls for 47 percent of the money to go to local roads, 47 percent to go to regional projects and six percent to go to special projects such as providing disabled access to public transportation and rail projects to the Altamont Commuter Express train to Modesto. The project would allow the ACE train to be available in Modesto as early as 2018 and Turlock as early as 2022.

As far as regional projects go, three mammoth east-west projects would be funded including a north county corridor project, a central county project— which is expected to be the widening of state route 132—and a south county widening project that would go between Turlock and Patterson from Interstate 5 to Highway 99.

Nick Rappley can be reached at nick@pattersonirrigator.com or 568-9975.

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