Ballot measure would address county roads |

Ballot measure would address county roads

Dilapidated El Dorado County roads may be in for major annual improvements if a potential November ballot measure passes.

The measure would direct additional monies to road repair and maintenance.

The El Dorado Builders’ Exchange, which is supporting the measure, needs 7,000 signatures by the end of May on a petition it is circulating throughout the county. If successful, the measure will redirect half of the county revenues collected through the California Department of Motor Vehicle registration fees to the service of county roads, rather than to the county’s General Fund. The initiative doesn’t propose new fees or taxes, just a reappropriation of discretionary monies which would add an estimated $3.6 million to $4 million to the road budget.

“As soon as we would have the money, projects would be scheduled,” said Tom Celio, county deputy director for maintenance and operations. “Right now county roads in South Lake Tahoe are in very poor condition and in need of immediate attention. They would benefit by any new revenue, since the Tahoe Basin is such an intrinsical part of our road program.”

Although the redirection of general funds would benefit the county transportation department, it would impact the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department, the biggest recipient of the discretionary monies.

The county received $7.2 million in DMV registration fees in 1998-99 that went toward $42 million in General Fund expenditures.

County law enforcement received $22.7 million from the General Fund. The money was divided between the sheriff’s department, which received $18 million, the probation department which received $2.1 million, the district attorney’s office, $1.6 million and the public defender’s office, $1 million – none went to county road maintenance.

“We are always protective of our funds, but we do support county roads,” said Sheriff’s Lt. Bill Whealton. “Anytime we have funds cut back, though, we are concerned.”

Those interested in signing the petition, or helping to circulate it in their respective areas, can call the El Dorado Builders’ Exchange at (530) 672-2955.

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