For far too long, Merced County residents have been allowing their tax dollars to help build roads in Los Angeles and Bay Area communities.
For far too long, the roads in our cities and communities have been plagued by potholes and our children and grandchildren haven’t had safe routes to walk and bike to school.
Now is our time to fix these realities by passing Measure V. Each and every Merced County resident will be faced with a choice this November: Approve a half-cent sales tax to generate local funding to fix our local transportation problems, or be content with living with the same potholes, unsafe cracked streets, lack of sidewalks and congestion we now endure.
The choice is ours, and it is time we choose to be part of the solution.
Measure V is a game changer for Merced County. Every penny of the $15 million generated annually will be spent to improve city and county roads and create safe routes for children to bike and walk to school. Not a penny will go to Sacramento or Washington, D.C. In fact, with this local funding in place, the state and federal governments would send tax dollars back to Merced County to match the money this initiative produces.
That’s because passing Measure V makes Merced County a “self-help” county.
If we fail to pass Measure V, the taxes our residents pay on gasoline will continue to be spent on transportation projects in other counties and cities. That makes no sense when those dollars could be spent here.
Half the money each year would be divided by the cities of Merced, Atwater, Livingston, Gustine, Dos Palos and Los Banos and the county of Merced. That will be spent to improve local streets and roads, which most of you drive most often. Local elected officials in each jurisdiction will have total control over how each allocation is spent in their communities. That money cannot be taken away and it cannot be used for purposes other than transportation.
Forty-four percent of the money will be spent on regional improvements that will ease congestion, improve air quality and spark economic development. Jobs would be created for construction workers, architects, engineers and contractors. Travel on our highways and regional corridors will be safer. Five percent of the annual revenue would be used to enhance the countywide bus service to help senior citizens, students and people with disabilities.
The final 1 percent would be dedicated to strong taxpayer safeguards such as an oversight committee and annual independent audits.
With Measure V, Merced County residents won’t be the only ones paying for these improvements. Commuters along the Highway 99, I-5 and Highway 152 corridors, and visitors on their way to Yosemite will also pay this sales tax – as will out-of-county businesses who buy goods from our businesses.
Merced County has tried to pass such a measure before and we have failed. As a result, we are even further behind on making the needed investments in our local transportation system. This time, Merced County must – and will – put the votes together to help us help ourselves. We all will be part of the solution.
Daron McDaniel represents District 3 and Jerry O’Banion represents District 5 on the Merced County Board of Supervisors. They wrote this for the Merced Sun-Star.