Progress for Tahoe: Vote yes on Measure C (opinion)
Roads play a strong supporting role, if not a leading role in nearly all of our lives. They are the conduit between our homes and work, our homes and school, our homes and friends. Whether we are driving, biking, walking or unicycling, we meet the road on the way.
Roads are part of our daily lives like our pets, our cars, our front doors. If one of these were broken (or injured), we would fix it, because it would make our lives better. Why don’t we hold our roads in the same esteem?
Measure C is a half-cent sales tax which will come before voters in November. It will fund a program to fix potholes and pave, maintain and repair local streets and roads, bringing them up to current construction standards. Measure C is estimated to generate $2.5 million in dedicated road repair funding annually, which could pay for 2 ½ miles of full roadway rebuild, 5 miles of re-paving, or up to 16 miles of slurry sealing and pothole repair each year.
Measure C will result in a direct savings to Lake Tahoe residents in reduced vehicle maintenance costs. The National Transportation Research Group estimated that poorly maintained roads cost the average driver in the Sacramento region nearly $600 per year in added wear and tear to their vehicle, including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption.
Measure C, in contrast, is estimated to cost South Lake Tahoe residents on average $25 spread over the year in sales taxes spent on clothes, household items and other taxable goods purchased within the city. Also, Measure C is a way to allow our visitors to contribute to the upkeep of our town — the majority of sales tax revenue in South Lake Tahoe is generated by visitors, not by local residents.
In addition to direct benefits to locals, Measure C will also improve water and air quality by reducing fine sediment and re-entrained dust from our disintegrating road system. It will reduce long-term costs to our city by rebuilding our roads so that they can be maintained effectively moving into the future.
Some have asked why the city doesn’t have money in the general fund to cover road repair. When the city was founded the budget was not set up in a way that allowed for consistent, dedicated roads funding. Road improvement funding is apportioned on a discretionary basis, fluctuating significantly from year to year and competing with other high priority needs.
Further, other rising costs tap the city’s general fund, like health care and pensions, eating into basic services. Health care used to cost the city $1,200 per employee with a family per year. Now health care costs the city $12,000 per employee with a family per year. Sales taxes and other funds that comprise the city’s general fund have not kept pace.
Other counties have successfully passed “self-help” sales tax measures to responsibly generate funding to fix local transportation issues, instead of living with bad roads. Having our own source of revenue with oversight from a local citizen committee will make us more self-reliant and will provide accountability for these funds that are specifically dedicated to roads.
Please join Progress for Tahoe members in improving our roads, our personal safety and our quality of life. Vote “Yes” on Measure C Nov. 7.
Karen Fink, Troy Matthews, Rebecca Bryson, Progress for Tahoe
Progress for Tahoe is a grassroots group of concerned local citizens who have gathered together to address the most pressing issues in Tahoe. We believe in forward-thinking solutions that encourage innovation and entrepreneurship in the Tahoe region, while preserving our natural resources, to grow the economy for the benefit of all.