According to San Jose’s Transportation Director, the city is around 85 percent short when it comes to funding that is needed to maintain local roads over the next decade. Consequently, the cash-strapped local government may look to a parcel tax as a way to generate revenue. It is projected that San Jose will need to raise around $600 million out of $1 billion in costs over the next 10 years to address the city’s poor road conditions because state funds will only cover a small portion. Under a parcel tax, some property owners would have to contribute as much as $400 a year. While the transportation committee has not made a final decision on the matter, some council members have spoken strongly in favor of the tax. Street maintenance has been neglected in light of the city’s 10 straight years of large budget deficits. The question is whether or not voters will support such a tax, as two-thirds approval is necessary. Mercury News reports:
“City officials noted that voters a decade ago approved bond measures totaling $599 million to pay for new police and fire stations, parks and libraries. ‘Time and again, when projects are a clear benefit to the community, taxes do get approved,’ Councilman Ash Kalra said. […] San Jose officials surveyed city voters four years ago and found 58 percent might support a $100 million parcel tax for road maintenance. That was still short of the two-thirds margin needed for passage and before the nation plunged into an economic recession.”
The transportation committee will discuss further the parcel tax at its meeting in March. The city’s roads have already been ranked as some of the worst in the Bay Area. San Jose officials are sure to have their eye on the outcome of a bond measure in San Francisco that would fund street maintenance. Voters will decide its fate during the November 8th election.