TRUCKEE, Calif. — A proposal to increase the town’s sales tax to help fund trail construction and upkeep is one step closer to making the June primary election.
“This is an idea whose time has come, and we need to move forward and work with our community to see this happens the best way it can,” said Truckee town council member Carolyn Wallace Dee.
On Tuesday, council unanimously directed staff to prepare the item in time for the Jan. 28 council meeting so, if approved, the tax measure can be on the June 3 ballot.
“I didn’t think I would be uttering this phrase, but thank you for considering this tax increase,” said Truckee resident Doug Gonda, garnering laughs for the crowd. “… I think this is a great way to go.”
Others, however, aren’t so sure.
“I’m a trails person. (I) use the trails, and I’m just not getting it,” said Truckee resident Denny Dickinson. “I’m on the fence. I’m not to sure I can vote for this.”
Proposed is a quarter-cent, 10-year sales tax increase that would generate about $1 million annually toward town trails. To pass, it must garner two-thirds majority among voters.
According to a poll by San Francisco-based TBWB Strategies, 67 percent of 564 registered Truckee voters surveyed last fall would vote in favor.
“What this tells us is if there were an election tomorrow, it’s a coin flip in terms of whether or not the residents of Truckee would approve a self-taxation measure,” said Dan Wilkins, public works director and engineer for the town.
Historically, the town has funded separate paved trail construction through developer funding, special local funds, general funds and a strong emphasis on grant funds.
“We can continue on a catch-as-catch-can type of approach to pursuing grant funds and hope we can secure grant funds for these trails,” Wilkins said. “That may be successful, it may not be. It’s, again, going to be dependent on availability of money from outside the region and our ability to compete for it.”
Should the measure go out to vote and pass, town staff would still seek other forms of funding to support trails, he said.
Additionally, maintenance costs have been low due to Truckee’s trails being relatively new — the oldest paved trail was built in 1998 — according to the town. However, as they get older and more are constructed, those costs will rise.
To help provide neutral information to the public on the matter, town council on Tuesday approved amending TBWB Strategies’ $33,000 contract to a maximum of $61,840. The additional $28,840 will cover the consulting firm’s professional services and production of public information mailers.