Fresno Co.’s roads tax becomes a hotbed. Will voters keep Measure C rolling?

Fresno County’s long-standing transportation tax is on the November ballot for renewal a few years early. 

Measure C

Fresno County’s long-standing transportation tax is on the November ballot for renewal a few years early. 

Originally passed in 1986 and again in 2006 for another 20-year term, the Fresno County Transportation Authority is attempting to move forward with a 30-year extension that would start in 2027. 

Measure C is a half-cent sales tax county-wide that supports roads and transportation infrastructure. 

The tax has generated over $1 billion in improvements in its lifetime, and the renewal is estimated to total $6.8 billion. 

The funding will be allocated in the following ways: 

  • 51.37 percent for local and neighborhood street repair and maintenance
  • 17.64 percent for local control
  • 11.88 percent for urban and rural public transit
  • 1.22 percent for Safe Bikes and Pedestrians, including Safe Routes to School and Access for People with Disabilities
  • 14.6 percent for major roads and highways, safety improvement and congestion relief
  • 2 percent for environmental sustainability
  • 1.25 percent for the Transportation Authority’s and the Fresno Council of Government’s administrative and planning activities

The formal opposition to Measure C is comprised of an interesting mix that has united both the Fresno County Republican and Democratic parties on a singular issue. 

On the right, arguments against renewal center on voting on a tax while inflation remains high. 

On the left, social justice groups have argued that Measure C is not equitable enough for minority communities. 

Measure C needs a two-thirds majority vote to pass. 

Measure E

While the Measure C renewal effort has received the most media attention, Measure E is arguably the most controversial. 

Measure E – also known as the California State University, Fresno Facility and Academic Program Improvement Measure – would levy a 0.2 percent sales tax county-wide, with the exception of Reedley, which would have a 0.025 percent rate. 

Tax revenue would fund programs, scholarships and facility improvements at Fresno State, the most notable of which would likely be Valley Children’s Stadium. 

The county projects that the 20-year lifespan of the tax would raise $720 million total for Fresno State. 

At least two-thirds of the funding would be required to be spent on academic programs and facilities. 

That includes expanding access in nursing, agriculture, criminology, engineering/STEM programs and repairing and upgrading academic facilities. It also includes providing scholarships for local low-income students. 

The remaining third – totaling $240 million – would be allowed to be used for athletics facilities, such as the aging Valley Children’s Stadium. 

So far Fresno State’s athletic department has not publicized a stadium renovation plan to this point. Athletic departments across the country often raise money from private donors for such renovations, making a sales tax an outside-the-box proposal. 

Measure E needs a simple majority to pass.

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