Town Council considers Measure R hike
In 2014, Truckee voters passed a 0.25% sales tax increase in order to fund trail maintenance and construction in the area.
On Tuesday, Truckee Town Council was given an update on the measure, which generates $1.3 to $1.7 million annually. The council also discussed whether it should be placed in front of voters for renewal on the June primary election ballot, possibly with an increased tax rate to 0.5%.
Ultimately, Truckee Town Council directed staff to return at the Jan. 11 meeting with an action to place Measure R with a 0.5% sales tax on the June ballot. Additional language states the measure wouldn’t expire unless repealed by voters. The measure would need to pass by a two-thirds vote.
Proposed trail construction during the next 20 years is estimated to be more than $92 million, and includes $47.5 million for paved trails, $31 million for the construction of structures like bridges, $4.3 million for dirt trails, and $10 million for class trails. Construction of Class II trails — bike lanes along established streets — within town is funded by Measure V, but those funds aren’t eligible for potential bike lines on the state highway network, according to Town Engineer Dan Wilkins.
The total cost of work identified, including maintenance and construction of trails, for the next 20 years is estimated to be $107.8 million. Renewing Measure R with its current 0.25% sales tax would generate approximately $35 million versus $70 million, if a 0.5% increase were adopted.
“It will continue the progress on trails, just not as rapidly … how rapidly do we want to continue to build our trail network?” asked Wilkins.
In order to assess the likelihood of voters again passing the measure, Truckee contracted with TBWBH Props and Measures and its sub-consultants True North Research, Inc. Town Council approved of using TBWBH in October for an amount not to exceed $72,750. Roughly half that amount has been spent, according to Wilkins. The town will continue to use TBWBH in the coming months for public outreach efforts.
Surveys were administrated via mail, email, text, and phone to nearly 700 Truckee voters from Oct. 25 through Nov. 14. In the end, the public opinion survey showed 72% of likely voters would support renewing Measure R at a 0.5% tax rate. If passed by voters in June, Truckee’s current sales tax rate would go from 8.25% to 8.5%.
“Given the results from the poling, it seems to show that Truckee really loves trails (and) bikeways, and they want to proceed,” said Truckee Trails Foundation Director Paco Lindsay during the public comment portion of Tuesday’s presentation. “They actually want to even tax themselves more to benefit more to make this a better community.”
Truckee Trails Foundation doesn’t receive funding from Measure R. All funds go toward town-specific projects, while the Truckee Trails Foundation works on U.S. Forest Service and Truckee Donner Land Trust trails.
Council member Anna Klovstad also lent her support in favor of the measure, adding that a sales tax increase would generate funding from those visiting the area as well.
“I think we’d be crazy not to go for the full 0.5%,” she added.
Justin Scacco is a staff writer with the Sierra Sun. He can be reached at email@example.com
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