By: Steve Archer, Reporter
Colfax City Councilman Kim Douglass, against new taxes but in favor of improved roads, will support a proposed half-cent sales tax increase for transportation projects in Placer County.
“I’ve been a member of the Libertarian Party for decades and believe in no new taxes,” Douglass said Wednesday. “This is one of the rare occasions where I am in favor of a tax increase.”
“The standard (Pavement Condition Index or PCI) rating is 85 percent. Colfax is at 40 percent,” Douglass added. “We are at the bottom of the totem pole for road rating.”
The measure, which is being considered by the Placer County Transportation Planning Agency (PCTPA), could provide Colfax with $250,000 annually for road repair and maintenance. Celia McAdam, executive director of the transportation planning agency, said the PCI rating for Colfax indicates roads that are crumbling.
If a half-cent sales tax increase were approved, “most of Colfax would be able to be repaved,” McAdam told the Colfax Record Monday. “I think there is a whole lot in it for Colfax.”
Douglass said the roads in Colfax are like “teeth with fillings gone bad and need crowns.”
“The roads were put in 50 years ago and are falling apart and need maintenance,” Douglass said. “Everyone in the Colfax area should vote for (the sales tax increase).”
Colfax Area Chamber of Commerce President Frank Klein said he sees the sales tax increase as mostly good for Colfax.
“Taking some off the traffic off of the 174 interchange would be helpful,” Klein said, adding he doesn’t like decreased traffic into town. “But a lot of our streets need repair, and in that respect, I think it’s totally a good thing.”
Colfax City Councilman Tony Hesch, a Placer County Transportation Planning Agency board member, said fixing Colfax’s roads is one of his priorities.
“When I ran to be elected to the council, my No. 1 goal was to resolve the asphalt problems in the community,” Hesch said. “A county-wide effort to develop road improvements represents the only viable and realistic chance to resolve Colfax’s asphalt issues.
“While I am opposed to increased taxes in almost every situation, this is the least expensive, and only practical, way to proceed with a viable asphalt improvement plan,” Hesch added. “So I support it.”
McAdam said the game plan going forward is to visit every jurisdiction in Placer County and present the expenditure plan. The Colfax City Council is scheduled to have the presentation on Wednesday.
“Then a majority of jurisdictions, representing a majority of the incorporated population of Placer County, plus the board of supervisors, all have to approve the expenditure plan,” McAdam said. “We would like unanimous approve; to get a two-thirds majority on the (November) ballot everyone has to be on the same page.”
McAdam said after all of the jurisdictions are visited, and the requirements are met, her board of directors will be asked to adopt the expenditure plan on June 22.
“Then it will be sent to the Placer County Board of Supervisors on July 12 and asked to place it on the ballot,” McAdam said. “We’ve been working on the expenditure plan for three years.
“We’ve worked really closely with elected officials and what their needs are,” McAdam added. “There is a good strong consensus among the PCTPA board members.”
McAdam said the proposed half-cent sales tax increase would cost the average household between $61 and $63 annually and that about one-third of the sales tax generated would come from out-of-county residents.
“If this passes, the sales tax in Placer County would go from seven and one-half percent to seven and three-quarters, because a one-quarter percent state sales tax expires this year,” McAdam said.
According to the five-year expenditure plan, 24 streets in Colfax would have the entire length of the road fixed. It is expected Colfax would receive $7.5 million over 30 years or $250,000 annually.