TURLOCK — They're not completely sold on the idea, but the City Council Tuesday night agreed with a proposal to change fees charged for upkeep of roads in Stanislaus County.
The Board of Supervisors will consider the transportation fee — charged to all new development to pay for county roads — at its Tuesday meeting. Other fees, including those for county services such as health care and jail operations, have been approved.
Debbie Whitmore, Turlock's deputy director of development services, said city staff is concerned that projects paid for with the money are focused on the other end of the county. For instance, the North County Corridor project, which would link Highway 99 in Salida to Highway 108 east of Oakdale, would get money well before the South County Corridor project, which would link the industrial area of Turlock to Interstate 5.
"By focusing so much ... in the north county area, more development is likely to occur in that area," Whitmore said. That could dissuade industrial customers from building in Turlock's Westside Industrial Specific Plan — in effect, they'd be paying for roads they likely wouldn't use.
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"Staff does not believe that is an equitable nexus," she said. "The fee leveled on Turlock development and benefits ... should be based on closer relationship of benefits."
City Manager Roy Wasden said he and city staff members meet regularly with their counterparts in the county and its other cities, voicing concerns about where the money's going.
"This kind of situation could create friction, but this has not been dysfunctional friction," he said. He added that the county has "committed to work with all of the cities on equity, and then readopt the public facility fee."
In other action, the council heard an update on a contract with a Bay Area firm to work on improvements to the city's entryways.
David Gates of Gates and Co. outlined a plan to install signs leading travelers from Highway 99 to various destinations in Turlock.
The contractor worked with representatives of the city, businesses and California State University, Stanislaus, to develop the plan. It also calls for landscaping tailored to the area — drought-resistant plants that would be selected for their growth size, reducing upkeep costs and waste. Gates said the intent is to make the city's entryways and busy Golden State corridor look unique while still saving money.
The council delayed action on continuing the $78,000 contract with Gates and Co., which expired in March, until a cost estimate could be provided.
Gates offered a ballpark estimate of $1 per square foot for upkeep. The city pays about $1.50 per square foot now.