Fresno

After approving road spending, Fresno County begins eyeing Measure C extension

The Fresno County Transportation Authority board on Wednesday approved the Measure C spending plan for next year.

Measure C is the countywide half-cent sales tax devoted to funding various transportation projects. Officials estimate the tax will generate $82.23 million in Fiscal Year 2019-2020 beginning July 1. Interest income is estimated at $3.8 million.

Total: $86.03 million.

Among the key appropriations approved by the board, with comments from a staff report:

1.) Regional Transportation Program – Urban Projects Category: $13,336,579.

“This is a ‘holding category for urban capital transportation projects. Not project specific. As a project comes on line and is approved by the Authority, funds will be allocated to the correct category….”

2.) Regional Transportation Program – Rural Projects Category: $13,044,579.

“This is a ‘holding’ category for rural capital transportation projects….”

3.) Regional Public Transit Program – New Technology Reserve Category: $1,953,654.

4.) Alternative Transportation Program – Rail Consolidation Category: $5,818,583.

5.) Local Allocation for Street Maintenance, Americans with Disabilities Act Compliance, etc.: $24,926,674.

6.) Pedestrian and Bicycle Trails: $2,525,250.

7.) Bicycle Facilities: $733,137.

8.) Public Transit Services (such as FAX and Clovis Transit): $16,014,980.

9.) Public Transportation Infrastructure Study: $236,233.

10.) Ag-Worker/Car/Van Pool: $944,932.

The original Measure C went from 1987 to 2007. It took two tries, but voters in 2006 approved another 20-year term ending in 2027. The FCTA board on Wednesday approved the 13th annual budget of the 20-year extension.

Local transportation officials are already considering strategies to get voter approval of another 20-year extension. FCTA Executive Director Mike Leonardo told me on Wednesday that he expects to add just such a topic to the board’s August agenda.

“We don’t want to wait to the last minute,” Leonardo said.

Translation: Transportation is vital to Fresno County’s future. Transportation is both varied and expensive. Measure C is viewed by most voters as a success (77.7% of those going to the polls voted for the extension on the second go-around). But a tax is a tax. It takes time and focus to convince taxpayers to continue taxing themselves.

George Hostetter is The Sun’s Fresno Civic contributor – covering the City of Fresno, County of Fresno, and Fresno Council of Governments.