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North Bay Business Journal

Tuesday, July 10, 2012, 4:31 pm

Napa supervisors send road tax to November ballot

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    NAPA COUNTY – Napa County residents will be asked to vote on a new half-cent sales tax this November, a measure that will go towards much-need road improvements throughout the county.

    Approved for the ballot through a final vote during today’s Board of Supervisors meeting, the 25-year tax, known as the “Napa Countywide Road Maintenance Act,” would take effect on July 1, 2018 and replace the current half-cent flood control sales tax “Measure A.” An expected $4.5 million in annual revenue would be split “on a fair and equitable basis” between Napa County’s municipalities and unincorporated areas, devoted exclusively to improvements and repairs to streets and sidewalks.

    Those funds would be included with current money that agencies have devoted to pavement preservation, making $6.5 million available for road work annually.

    Many of Napa County’s roads are close to a “tipping point on the pavement lifecycle curve,” a period where rapid deterioration would require repair at a greater expense, according to the most recent annual study of road conditions by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. Three areas – unincorporated Napa, the city of Napa and St. Helena – were found to be “at risk,” with St. Helena receiving the worst designation, “poor.”

    The goal of the ordinance would be to raise the county’s “Pavement Condition Index” to “good” and maintain that level over the life of the ordinance. Currently, only American Canyon holds that designation.

    If passed, the measure would generate $112 million to improve those roads over its lifetime. Yet those funds still fall short of the $412 million that planners expect will be required for road repairs in Napa County over the next 25 years.

    To bridge that gap, officials  expect to rely on other revenue streams, including a current gasoline tax, general fund dollars, state and federal funding.

    Approving the measure would require a two-thirds vote. Another transportation tax measure, 2006’s Measure H, failed to reach that threshold.

    Unlike Measure H, which also included road widening and other work, the new tax measure would be exclusively devoted to repairs. Planners have since obtained funding for projects that were included in the 2006 measure, including widening the two-lane pass on Highway 12 known as Jameson Canyon.

    While the new measure is slated to begin in 2018, an earlier repeal of the flood control tax would put the new tax into action immediately.

    The Board of Supervisors vote follows a series of actions by the Napa County Transportation and Planning Agency, a process that began with initial planning in late 2011.

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