Sales tax for roads headed to June ballot

Highway 25 at San Felipe Road

Supervisors on Tuesday put their support behind a proposed half-cent sales tax now headed for the June ballot.
The proposed 30-year tax would raise an estimated $240 million over its life for road repairs such as funding for Highway 25 improvements, local street fixes, and local road projects like bicycle or pedestrian paths.
County supervisors unanimously approved placing the question on the June ballot weeks after the Council of San Benito County Governments board, comprised of officials from the two cities and county, did the same.
As explained by COG Executive Director Mary Gilbert, half of the money would go toward Highway 25. Then 30 percent would go to road repairs and maintenance, with funds allocated to the two cities, and the other 20 percent would go to specific projects like bicycle lanes or repairs to corridors such as Fairview Road.
She also mentioned how COG may be able to bond the funding so that it could start some projects earlier than otherwise possible.
COG will likely face some level of competition on this year’s ballots. Hollister and San Benito County are both set to ask voters about separate sales tax increases in November. The Hollister School District is proposing a bond for the November ballot, while the San Benito High School District’s officials have discussed proposing a bond in November as well.
Supervisor Margie Barrios asked Gilbert how COG planned to engage the community.
Gilbert responded how the agency is doing outreach to different groups, making information available online and increasing its social media presence. There may be one or two public meetings, too, she said.
Resident Marty Richman spoke during the public comment period, underscoring the importance of the roads to the local economy.
“We have to have transportation,” he said.
The sales tax in the City of Hollister is 8.5 percent, while it’s 8.25 percent in San Juan. In unincorporated San Benito County, it’s 7.5 percent.

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