Los Angeles County was the first county in the state to raise its transportation sales tax to a penny and now Alameda County could be the second. The Transportation Commission has now proposed the sales tax increase for the November 2012 ballot, and if it is to pass, it will require a two-thirds vote. Officials have been debating in Alameda whether to extend the current half-cent countywide sales tax or to raise the tax to a penny, and now the decision has been made for the creation of a new transportation expenditure plan. Improving public transit and repairing road conditions are the areas of focus that the boost in funds would address. The current half-cent tax will expire in 2022. The Contra Costa Times reports:
“The measure would raise some $7.7 billion in new funds over 30 years, including a proposal that has roiled debate about allocating $400 million to partially fund a BART rail extension to Livermore. ‘Our roads will deteriorate and our congestion will worsen if we don't act,’ said Tess Lengyel, a deputy director for policy for the commission. The agency is overseen by a 22-member board of elected city, county and transit district board members. ‘We also are planning improvements to serve a population expected to grow by 500,000 people,’ Lengyel said.”
So will voters be in the mood for paying more? The county says a recent poll shows 69 percent of Alameda County residents would support the tax measure. But there is some concern about the fact that the tax increase does not have an expiration date, meaning it will be made permanent. But to address such criticism, the ballot measure may include a stipulation in which county voters would be empowered to vote in 2042 on what projects should be funded.
We relayed back in September that the Governor signed Assembly Bill 1086, which allowed Alameda County’s Transportation Commission to place a tax hike on the ballot for November 2012’s election. Patch reported that the legislation was needed because it “provides a one-time exemption from the existing 2 percent cap on local sales taxes. Recent sales tax measures approved in San Leandro and Union City would otherwise have prevented a countywide measure because it would exceed the 2 percent cap.”