Will voters be in the mood to renew a half-cent sales tax for Alameda County’s transportation needs? That’s what the county’s Transportation Commission is hoping for, as an early renewal of the current sales tax would help pay for improvements related to road, highway and public transit. The tax doesn’t actually expire until 2022, but the commission wants the sales tax to not only be approved a decade early but also increase the rate to 10 percent temporarily so that several projects can begin. The current sales tax is at 9.75 percent and it generates roughly $100 million in revenue each year. The commission has noted that if it proposes a tax hike, it would last from 2013 to 2022 so that road maintenance can get back on track and bus systems saved from cuts. The Contra Costa Times reports:
“No projects have been picked yet, but options up for discussion include carpool lane extensions, electric car charging stations and a long-discussed multibillion-dollar BART rail extension to Livermore, officials at the congestion management agency said. ‘We were able to deliver all the projects from the 2000 ballot measure because the competitive bidding climate lowered the costs dramatically,’ said Art Dao, the commission's executive director. ‘Now the issue is do we go to voters soon with a new list of projects to relieve congestion, or do we wait 10 years.’”
As the commission weighs the specifics of the ballot measure, it will have to determine whether the tax renewal is to apply for a specific time period or if it will be made permanent. Such a vote will require approval from two-thirds of voters. Public meetings have been scheduled so that the public has a chance to offer their opinions about the ballot options. For more, see here.