Action to deliver more revenue and ensure it will be wisely and exclusively spent fixing Martinez’ roads is overdue. So in August, the Martinez City Council took action to put a half-cent sales tax measure for roads on the Nov. 8, 2016 ballot: Measure D. Any further delay is, in fact, wasting taxpayer money and failing to address public safety, putting motorists, pedestrians and cyclists at unnecessary risk.
How big of a problem is it? According the City’s most recent bi-annual street survey, completed in March 2015, the backlog of deferred maintenance for Martinez’ local streets and roads is approaching $37 million. The longer we delay repairs, the more the roads crumble, and the more it will cost to fix them.
So how did we get here? Most of the revenue for transportation comes from state taxes on gas that have been declining for several reasons. Better fuel efficiency and a growing number of alternative-fueled vehicles are big factors, and the gas tax has not been increased since 1994. So our revenues have been going down while our costs keep going up. During the Great Recession, our declining local general fund money was focused on maintaining service levels, particularly for public safety, and the backlog of deferred road maintenance kept adding up.
Although road maintenance is primarily state funded, we cannot rely on the State to fix this. For the past several years, the City Council has supported the Governor’s push for a statewide solution, but the Legislature has been unable to agree on one. Seeing no solution from the State, cities all around us are turning to their residents for help – as we did in 2008 for our parks, library and pool (and look how beautifully they turned out!).
Martinez’s poor quality roads are well-documented and not in dispute. But there is a solution that can deliver some of the much-needed revenue with as little impact on taxpayers as possible: Measure D. Given that a state 0.25 percent sales tax is expiring this year, passing Measure D would result in a net increase of only 0.25 percent to the Martinez sales tax rate. And it will be 100 percent dedicated to Martinez roads.
We need a solution now. The longer we wait to take action, the higher the cost. We simply cannot afford to let Measure D fail on Nov. 8.
Martinez City Councilmember