Martinez Mayor's Message
Aug 29, 2016 10:20AM
● By Rob Schroder
Rob Schroder, Mayor of Martinez
At the July 20 meeting of the Martinez City Council, a public hearing was held to discuss the possibility of placing a sales tax measure on the November ballot that would be dedicated to maintaining and improving the streets and roads in the city. The second reading and final adoption of the ordinance to place the issue before the voters was acted on in early August.
In those public hearings, city staff reported the Pavement Condition Index (PCI) of roads and streets in the city had an overall rating of 51 out of 100. According to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, this is the second worst rating in all of Contra Costa County.
In order to just maintain this PCI level of 51, we would need to spend up to $17.6 million over 5 years. To increase the PCI by 5 points to 56, we would need to spend $24 million over 5 years. The current deferred maintenance backlog is now $36.6 million. With an annual paving budget of $640,000 from recurring sources such as Measure J and gas tax, we will continue to fall further and further behind.
Over the years, we have allocated additional funds from our unrestricted reserve account (rainy day fund) for infrastructure repair, and we have also received funding from federal grants and state proposition funding for roads. These federal and state funds are no longer available, and current proposals to fund road maintenance through an increase in the gas tax or registration fees are going nowhere.
Since 2005, we have completed almost $12 million of street improvements, including six paving rehabilitation projects, six paving projects, and two major street improvement projects. At the beginning of fiscal year 2015, the city council set aside $1 million of reserve funds for infrastructure to augment the meager gas tax we receive. These funds have not yet been allocated to any specific improvement projects.
After lengthy discussion and public comment, the city council voted unanimously to place a ½ cent sales tax measure on the ballot dedicated to road and street maintenance and repair. The tax will expire in 15 years and will be monitored by a Citizen Oversight Committee. The measure will require a 2/3 majority approval of the electorate. If successful, this ½ cent sales tax will generate $2.1 million per year, tripling our budget for paving, and it can be used for no other purpose than maintaining and improving our streets and roads.
Getting a 2/3 vote on any issue is very difficult, especially with all of the other competing tax measures on the November ballot. But if we are going to make any headway in improving our streets and roads (especially in our residential neighborhoods), we have to rely on ourselves to fund those projects. Many of our neighboring cities have done so successfully.
From now until the November election, I will do everything I can to educate our citizens about this issue and to answer any and all questions. Please feel free to email me at [email protected] with any comments and/or questions.