Local ballot questions tackle transportation funding

October 29, 2019

Keith Goble

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Local ballots on the Nov. 5 from Oregon to Connecticut will include questions about whether to boost funding for transportation work. Below is a sampling of Land Line research.

Colorado Springs, Colo.

The city’s local ballot includes a question to benefit road and bridge work.

Since 2016, the state’s second largest city has collected a 0.62% sales and use tax to cover costs to improve more than 1,000 lane miles. The tax collection has a five-year sunset date – Dec. 31, 2020.

Voters will decide next week whether to extend collection of the tax at a slightly reduced rate.

Specifically, Issue 2C on the ballot will ask voters whether to extend collection of the tax for five years. The tax rate would be trimmed to 0.57%.

The additional revenue is estimated to amount to $50 million annually. The tax money would pay to improve nearly 900 lane miles in the city.

Opponents say the city has record revenue and record spending. They contend that city officials can do a better job of prioritizing road and bridge work without needing to renew a sales tax.

Larimer County, Colo.

A short drive south along Interstate 25 in Larimer County, voters will decide on collection of a sales and use tax for roads and bridges.

Local ballots in cities including Fort Collins and Loveland will include Issue 1A. Passage would authorize a 0.5% sales and use tax to be collected for 20 years for projects in the county’s cities, towns and unincorporated areas.

The tax is estimated to raise more than $1 billion over the next two decades.

A portion of the revenue would be earmarked as a local match to cover costs for improvements to Interstate 25 between state Highway 402 at Loveland and state Highway 66 near Longmont.

About half of the remaining funds would be used for transportation infrastructure. Nearly 20% would benefit transit projects. The rest would be used for county facilities.

Advocates say the additional revenue is necessary to help prepare the city for anticipated population growth.

Critics say the county needs to do a better job with revenue it already collects. They note that as population grows property and sales tax revenue will increase.

Connecticut cities

Voters in at least a half dozen locales throughout Connecticut will decide whether to tap bonds to pay for nearly $50 million in road improvements.

The city of Manchester would use $16.5 million to cover general obligation bonds for reconstruction and repair of various roads, traffic signals and other road elements. Rocky Hill would appropriate $10 million for improvements to town roads and certain parking lots.

Albuquerque, N.M.

Ballots in New Mexico’s largest city will include a transportation tax question.

Question 6 on the ballot will allow voters to decide whether to extend collection of a 0.25% transportation infrastructure tax that is set to expire on June 30, 2020.

Voters approved a similar bond question in November 2017. Passage authorized the issuance of $32.5 million in general obligation bonds.

Renewal of the tax would allow the city to authorize $32.9 million in street bonds. The proceeds would be used to construct and repair projects that include municipal streets and roads, interstate roadways and interchanges, bridges, and transit.

Not less than 57% of funds would be used for road infrastructure improvements. As much as 37% would be applied for transit work. At least 5% would be used for trails.

Texas local ballots

Three locales around the state of Texas will include questions on fall local ballots to benefit transportation.

Williamson County voters will decide on a bond issuance.

Proposition A would authorize the issuance of $412 million in bonds for improvements to roads and state highways.

Voters in the city of Denton will decide on the issuance of $154 million of public securities for infrastructure improvements.

Passage of Proposition A would allocate funds for constructing, reconstructing, or extending projects that include streets and roadways.

Ballots in the city of Coppell will include a question to extend for four years the collection of a sales and use tax.

Proposition A would reauthorize a 0.25% local sales and use tax for maintenance and repair of municipal streets or sidewalks.

Coburg, Ore., local ballot

Voters in the community of Coburg will decide whether to double the city’s gas tax.

The city, located along Interstate 5 north of Eugene, collects a 3-cent tax on gas purchases.

Issue 20-303 on the local ballot allows voters to decide whether to double the tax rate to 6 cents per gallon. Diesel sales would not be affected.

Doubling the gas tax is estimated to raise $90,000 annually. Funds would be limited for road improvements or retiring bonds used for road maintenance.

Advocates say the focus of the tax increase would be on drivers passing through the city. Opponents say the revenue forecast is misleading. They cite drivers purchasing fuel elsewhere.

Earlier Colorado ballot coverage in Land Line Media

Voters in Colorado will decide next week on the Nov. 5 ballot whether to permit the state to keep more of their money to help with transportation and education costs.

Keith Goble

Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.