TRUCKEE, Calif. — Residents and visitors soon will be able to enjoy more trails in Truckee after the adoption of a sales tax measure to support them.
Initial results from Tuesday’s primary election show about 75 percent of Truckee residents voted in favor of Measure R, which calls for a quarter-cent, 10-year sales tax increase to fund construction and maintenance of paved and earthen trails in the community.
“I’m extremely happy, excited,” said Paco Lindsay, a director with the Truckee Trails Foundation and chair of the Committee for Trails (Yes on R). “The community really came together.”
Truckee’s sales tax will grow from 8.125 percent to 8.375 percent. That equates to 25 cents on every $100 spent in Truckee on sales-taxable item, including furniture, giftware, toys, antiques, clothing and some labor services.
The tax goes into effect April 1, 2015, said Dan Wilkins, public works director/town engineer.
It’s estimated the tax will generate $10 million, all staying in Truckee. Roughly $8 million will go toward trail construction — including the Truckee River Legacy Trail — and the remainder to maintenance.
“We are so happy the community can now count on the completion of the Legacy Trail from Donner Lake to Glenshire by 2024,” said Lisa Wallace, president of Our Truckee River Legacy Foundation. “Thank you to the supporters of Measure R.”
Not all are happy with Measure R’s adoption, however.
“What is with people approving more taxes to pay?” Andria Herman Golden, a Truckee resident, wrote on the Sierra Sun’s Facebook page, which she confirmed in a follow-up interview. “Let’s just keep driving out the future due to high taxes and coast (sic) of living while most people get paid next to nothing.”
Around next April, Truckee Town Council will establish a citizen oversight committee likely composed of five members — residents and business owners — to review use of Measure R funds and ensure they are consistent with legally allowed uses, Wilkins said. Review is expected to coincide with the annual audit of town finances.
Should the committee determine any funds are used improperly, it would be reported to town council and potentially the State Department of Finance, Wilkins said. Council then would review findings and issue corrective action if necessary.
As for priority projects with Measure R, those will be consistent with the Truckee Trails and Bikeways Master Plan, which is being updated. To complete the current plan, an additional 10 miles of paved trail and 25 miles of earthen trail would be needed, for an estimated cost of $17 million, according to the town.
Historically, the town has funded the construction of its 15 miles of completed Class I bikeways using a multi-pronged approach — developer funding, grant funds, local funds and general funds. Yet, town staff did not believe that was a sustainable, long-term method to fund trails.
Even with the passage of Measure R, the town will continue to pursue other trail funding opportunities such as grants and developer funding.
“The town is extremely excited that 75 percent of Truckee voters have confirmed the communities’ interest in funding and maintaining trails for the next 10 years,” Wilkins said. “The funds generated by Measure R will allow for significant expansion of the current trail network and provide funding for high quality maintenance of both existing and yet to be constructed trails.”
According to Nevada County Elections Office, 1,367 votes were in favor of Measure R, while 25 percent (456 votes) were against.
There remains an undetermined number of mail-in ballots to be counted, according to Nevada County, although it’s unlikely any number would sway the Measure R vote enough for it not to have the two-thirds majority it needs to be adopted.
OTHER ELECTION RACES
In other election news, incumbent Nevada County District Attorney Cliff Newell appears to have held off his challenger, David Alkire.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting Tuesday night, Newell was ahead with 55.34 percent of the vote to Alkire’s 44.66 percent. In all, 8,585 votes were for Newell, with 6,927 for Alkire.
Further, federal prosecutor Robert Tice-Raskin and Nevada County Assistant District Attorney Anna Ferguson appear to be headed to a run-off in November for the Superior Court judge seat being left open by Judge Sean Dowling’s retirement.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Tice-Raskin was ahead with 35.12 percent of the vote, and Ferguson was close behind with 31.12 percent. The other three candidates trail far behind.
Similarly, these races’ final numbers will be impacted by trickling-in mail-in votes. According to Nevada County, roughly 4,500 ballots still needed to be counted as of Thursday.
— Sun editor Kevin MacMillan contributed to this report.