Meyers willing to pay for road repair
Consensus was reached on one item at the Meyers Roundtable meeting on Wednesday night. Meyers residents want their roads repaired soon and are willing to pay for the improvements.
Only a handful of community members participated in the two-hour discussion about raising funds for El Dorado County’s road maintenance program. A presentation by the county’s Department of Transportation Director Michael Stoltz confused some residents but he outlined three scenarios, one of which must be chosen by the beginning of April:
1) A countywide half-cent sales tax that could import more than $30 million to the basin over two decades.
2) An unconfirmed, basinwide sales tax that would fund transit projects.
3) An increase in parcel fees in lieu of the countywide sales tax.
El Dorado County is considering limiting the countywide initiative to the West Slope because of the lingering doubt that two sales tax measures wouldn’t fly with voters. Stoltz said the county would have to make a decision by April in order to place the initiative on the November ballot.
“The Board of Supervisors wanted to get more feedback from the local community and we will relay that back to them,” said Stoltz, who indicated that he will make a presentation to the South Lake Tahoe City Council in the upcoming weeks. “Whatever option we pursue, we want the voters overwhelming support.”
Many of those in attendance favored either the parcel assessment or the countywide sales tax, both of which need a two-thirds majority to pass. According to some residents, there is an urgency to fix the roads now before they disintegrate.
The basinwide transportation tax is one of many considerations that may or may not happen at an undetermined future date. Roundtable Treasurer John Truesdell said Meyers can’t rest its hopes on a question mark.
“We can’t have this issue put on the back burner,” he said. “We have a need right now. Actually, we needed it five years ago. I don’t think residents want to put this off any longer.”
The immediacy of repairing roads is highlighted by the fact that the county’s transportation department will lose $1.5 million in the next fiscal budget and that three-quarters of county roads in the basin will be below average in the next five years (see related story). Transportation dollars don’t come from the county’s general fund and they are reliant on gas tax, forest health and property assessments.
The array of funding options for road maintenance has split the public’s opinion but resident William Fairbanks stressed that everyone should be on the same page in order to accomplish the same goal.
“Somewhere along the line we have to work as a unit instead of fighting against one another,” Fairbanks said. “We have to concentrate on one thing … getting our roads fixed.”
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