Measure H apparently gets voter approval |

Measure H apparently gets voter approval

Emily Aughinbaugh, Tribune staff writer

El Dorado County residents seem to want their roads fixed, at least that’s the opinion of 20,000 people who voted yes for Measure H as of press time Tuesday, with 149 out of 208 precincts reporting. Measure H will allocate 50 percent of Department of Motor Vehicle fees to county road maintenance.

The measure was sponsored by the El Dorado Builders’ Exchange, whose Executive Director Karen Kitchens said she was excited by the communities support.

“All I can say is yes, yes, yes,” Kitchens said. “The voters have spoken and it’s wonderful.”

Measure H will solicit $1.3 million to fund county roads next year, and that amount could possibly increase every year if Vehicle License Fees are raised. Before Measure H approval, no part of Vehicle License Fees directly went to county road maintenance – funds that Builders’ Exchange representatives said were critically needed.

The 41-year-old Exchange is composed of 300 county businesses that provide services to the construction industry. Exchange members filed Measure H when they were forced to pay for a number of road repairs at construction sites because the county would not spend the money to fix them.

“Sponsoring Measure H has been quite an undertaking by the El Dorado Builders’ Exchange, and it is a shining example of its members’ commitment to the community,” Kitchens said. “The Builders’ Exchange thanks all that supported Measure H.”

Both the 1999-2000 Grand Jury and the Department of Transportation reported a substantial decline in road conditions over the past year, with more than 79 percent classified as needing significant repair. Officials say if the roads go another decade without being repaved, the county predicts 91 percent of them will be at the same level of disrepair.

The Board of Supervisors fought Measure H in court after unanimously passing it onto the ballot in July.

But Supervisor Ray Nutting was always an active supporter of the measure.

“Measure H is winning by a landslide. The citizens want more money put in roads,” Nutting said. “I am elated that we are augmenting the road budget, absolutely in favor of it and it looks like the voters are overwhelmingly supporting it.”

The supervisors claim Measure H will tie the board’s discretionary hands, and pull from other programs like the Sheriff and fire departments that receive general fund money, which are supported by Vehicle License Fees.

Chief Administrative Officer Mike Hanford said at a meeting in August that Sheriff and other law and justice department budgets would be cut in half.

Supervisor Ray Nutting and Builders’ Exchange representatives said Hanford and the Board of Supervisors’ arguments are unfounded.

“We cut 5 to 10 percent in 1993-94 and the Sheriff’s Department was intact,” Nutting said at a Tahoe election forum. “(The Sheriff’s Department) will not lose one dime in salaries. Law enforcement always go last because the public wants to be safe.”

If the Board of Supervisors leave Measure H alone, Nutting said it will go into effect next year and Tahoe Basin roads, the worst in the county, will see major repairs.

Yes: 19,863

No: 11,953

149/208 precincts in

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