We aren’t going to throw a lot of facts and figures at you (well, maybe a few).
Instead, we want to show you, via photos, why the SB 1 gas and vehicle tax revenue is so badly needed in San Luis Obispo County and why it would be a big mistake to repeal it in November.
Here are four of the first projects made possible with SB 1 funds:
▪ El Camino Real in Atascadero: Major work on the $1.2 million pavement rehab project is scheduled to start in mid- to late September and finish before Thanksgiving.
▪ O’Donovan Road in Creston: This road was in such poor condition it scored just 25 points out of 100 on a rating system called the Pavement Condition Index . Following a $1.3 million repaving project, the road is now rated 100 (see the comparison below). More North County improvements are on the way; this week, the county is starting work on Bennett Way and Main Street in Templeton.
▪ Paso Robles Street off-ramp from northbound Highway 101: Project completed for $147,000. See the comparison below.
▪ James Way in Arroyo Grande: As its first project funded by SB 1, Arroyo Grande is rehabilitating James Way, from Oak Park Boulevard to Tally Ho Road.
A long, long list of projects will follow — if the tax survives Proposition 6 on the November ballot
If it doesn’t, we’ll lose a whole lot of money.
SB 1 taxes are expected to generate between $970 million and $1.4 billion for San Luis Obispo County over the next 10 years, according to the latest SLOCOG estimate.
We’re going to say that again: between $970 million and $1.4 billion for San Luis Obispo County over 10 years.
That includes around $15 million per year to repair and maintain streets in our local communities. That’s a lot of money to fill potholes and alligator cracks, which is good not only for cars, but also for pedestrians and cyclists.
On top of that, there’s additional money coming our way for regional projects, such as congestion relief on the Shell Beach Straights — that traffic-choked stretch of southbound Highway 101 from Avila Beach to Pismo — and to fix the deadly “Y” intersection in Cholame.
Do you really want to sacrifice all those projects to save 27 cents a day, which is the average amount SB 1 costs each taxpayer?
Consider, too, that those savings will probably be eaten up by vehicle wear and tear; bad roads cost the average SLO driver $1,419 per year in maintenance and repairs, according to a recent study.
Opponents of the gas tax point don’t deny that roads are in terrible shape, but they point out that Californians already pay plenty of taxes that should cover road improvements.
It’s true that some taxes, such as income and sales taxes, are among the highest in the nation.
But you know what’s not high? Property tax. Thanks to Proposition 13, California has the 17th lowest property tax rate in the nation. (New Jersey has the highest, in case you’re interested.)
Bottom line: We can’t have low taxes across the board and expect government to provide a high level of public services — especially in the most populous and one of the largest states in the union.
If we repeal SB 1, who knows how long we’ll have to wait for another lane on Highway 101 through Shell Beach, or for pothole repairs on our local streets.
We’ve already waited long enough. The Tribune strongly urges a no vote on Proposition 6.