Election 2014: Campaign begins for Measure R, Truckee trails tax
March 18, 2014
TRUCKEE, Calif. — On Sunday morning, people could be seen jogging and walking on Truckee's trails, taking advantage of the warm sunny day.
Among them was Chris Lagorio, of Stockton, Calif., who said he would be OK with paying a higher Truckee sales tax to support them.
"One thing up here is it's always beautiful — the trails are clean, nice and you can always count on that up here, and I would like it to stay like that," he said.
Others are still undecided.
"I'm not sure at this time just because I know we get taxed so much, but I know things need to be (funded)," said Diana Pruski, a Truckee resident who was walking Sunday along the legacy trail. "Maybe a fundraiser instead of a tax — that way they get money in, but not (by) taxing."
Of 564 registered Truckee voters surveyed last fall, 67 percent said they would vote in favor of a quarter-cent sales tax measure, while 29 percent were against and 4 percent were undecided. Concerns included taxes already being too high and a perception Truckee has enough trails, among others.
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Currently, the town has a sales tax of 8.125 percent, which is higher than Nevada County (7.625 percent) and Placer County (7.5 percent), and lower than the state average (8.38 percent).
If Measure R — the proposed quarter-cent, 10-year sales tax increase to fund construction and maintenance of separate paved and earthen trails in Truckee — is approved in the June 3 primary election, Truckee's sales tax would grow to 8.375 percent.
"It's a sales tax, so one could opt out in theory," said Paco Lindsay, owner of Paco's Truckee Bike & Ski and a director with the Truckee Trails Foundation. "… It's also a tax I view as spread across. Property tax that's only affecting property owners, and not everybody owns property. This is where everybody who chooses to consume a taxable good pays for it — the local, a second-home owner and a visitor."
Sales-taxable items in California include furniture, giftware, toys, antiques, clothing and some labor services, among others. Excluded items are many groceries, prescription medicine and certain medical devices, and items paid for with food stamps.
It's estimated the measure would generate $10 million, all of which would stay in Truckee, and nothing going to overhead costs. The town of Truckee estimates $8 million would go toward trail construction, and the remainder to maintenance.
The town is working with a citizen advisory group to identify which trails in the Truckee Trails and Bikeways Master Plan would receive funding, should the measure pass, with the legacy trail mentioned in the ballot language. An oversight committee would review expenditures.
Promoting the measure is the grassroots group Committee for Trails (Yes on R).
"All the studies show people want it, surveys show people want it, so it's not like we have to go crazy here," said Lindsay, who is also committee chair.
As for fundraising, Truckee Trails Foundation has donated $10,000 to the campaign, with other donations coming from Truckee River Legacy Foundation and private individuals.
Those funds could go to informational mailers and road signs, among other uses, Lindsay said.
The primary vote-by-mail period is from May 5 to May 27, while the deadline to register to vote is May 19. To register, go to registertovote.ca.gov.
Election polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on June 3.
"It's in the community's hands now," Lindsay said.
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