Sierra snow removal funding protection bill clears state transportation committee | SierraSun.com

Sierra snow removal funding protection bill clears state transportation committee

Greyson Howard
Sierra Sun

TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; Truckeeand#8217;s mayor was among those who traveled to Sacramento this week to support a bill aiming to maintain snow removal within Sierra communities.

Mayor Carolyn Wallace Dee and town of Truckee Assistant General Manager Alex Terrazas testified before the State Assembly Transportation Committee Monday on behalf of Assemblyman Ted Gainesand#8217; bill, AB2704, that would prevent the state from taking Highway Users Tax Account, or gas tax money, away from Sierra snow removal.

and#8220;We needed to get the message to them that this is about safety,and#8221; said Wallace Dee. and#8220;In other parts of the state this funding may be filling potholes, but here this is a critical public safety and access issue.and#8221;

The bill passed the committee, 11-0.

For Truckee, the gas tax represents about $1.5 million a year, or about half of the townand#8217;s snow removal budget, Terrazas said.

Earlier this year, when area government agencies first feared the spiraling state budget could result in that money being taken, Placer County estimated it could lose $7 million out of a $15 million road maintenance budget, and Nevada County estimated a $3 million loss.

and#8220;The bottom line for us is it would protect 40 percent of our snow removal money,and#8221; said Ken Grehm, director of public works for Placer County. and#8220;If it passes we wouldnand#8217;t be totally out of the woods but itand#8217;s a heck of a good start.and#8221;

Gaines, R-Roseville, who sponsored the bill.

and#8220;Snow removal is critical to help keep our mountain communities like South Lake Tahoe and Truckee safe and prosperous during the winter months,and#8221; said Gaines, who represents the 4th Assembly District, which includes portions of Placer, El Dorado, Sacramento and Alpine counties, in a press release. and#8220;Not only do our roads need to remain passable at all times, but any cut to road funding in these areas would threaten public safety, the local economy and the ability for our kids to get to school in the winter months.and#8221;

Wallace Dee said Mondayand#8217;s 11-0 vote is an important first step and#8212; but by no means is the funding secure.

and#8220;Who knows what the budget process will do,and#8221; Wallace Dee said.

Terrazas said the bill could either go to the assembly floor, or be held by the budget committee.