April 5, 2017
By Laura Hoffmeister
The Concord City Council — along with other city councils — has been advocating with state leaders for local road repair funding, its importance to reducing auto maintenance costs, to ensure a strong economy, and for safety (reducing accidents due to poor road conditions).
We have explained that the self-help funding that exists both locally and regionally is not enough. It’s been 23 years since California has increased funding for transportation, and that money has lost about 50 percent of its buying power.
That’s too long. Look at what’s happened. Our roads are a disaster. And they’ve gotten worse after this winter.
Last week, as Mayor of Concord, I was honored to host Gov. Jerry Brown, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, Sen. Jim Beall and Assemblyman Jim Frazier.
These state leaders were in Concord to explain the road repair funding bill — SB1. Frazier, a former Oakley mayor, understands first-hand the unmet needs at the local level for improving our local road conditions.
The proposal would provide $52 billion for California’s transportation infrastructure and all cities’ local roads. If passed — which would require two-thirds approval of the Senate and Assembly — it would mean $15 billion for all local streets and roads statewide over the next 10 years.
What would this bill provide to Concord? It would provide direct funds for road repairs.
Although Concord residents passed the extension of local sales tax increase Measure Q a few years back, there are not enough funds generated to fully address our road repair needs. Measure Q allowed Concord to invest an extra $22 million to repair the city’s roads over the next several years. However, Concord is still in need of $9 million more a year just to keep the roads from further deteriorating.
This bill would provide a direct funding to Concord of an additional $3 million a year for the next 10 years, which would stop the decline and help improve the current conditions. This would double the current amount we receive from the state.
The bill has three major parts: a state increase in the excise tax by 12 cents per gallon to be adjusted annually for inflation. Why is this important? The funds from the current gas excise tax have gone down over the years as there is no adjustment for inflation, and cars are getting more miles per gallon, reducing the amount of fuel a car uses, and electric cars do not use any or as much fuel, but put the same use on our roads.
The increase would help restore the lost purchasing power of the gas tax for road and transportation due to inflation. It would “reset” the priced-based excise tax on gasoline to its original rate of 17.3 cents. This rate has been reduced over the past several years by the state Board of Equalization, which further decreased funds available for local road repairs.
Lastly there will be an adjustment in the annual vehicle registration fee. There has been no increase for 14 years, yet our road repair needs and repair costs have increased.
Under the road repair proposal, the vast majority of us would pay $25 or $50 more per year to register their vehicle. Electric and hybrid vehicle drivers would pay a new $100 per-year fee beginning in 2020. The registration fees would not be able to be diverted with the passage of a constitutional amendment that will be put before the voters.
Poor roads cost car owners $750 a year in added maintenance. Our tires wear down. We burn more fuel. We need more alignments, struts, shocks, and brakes. And worst of all, our car doesn’t last as long, and its value depreciates.
The longer it takes to create funding solutions for our roads, the more it’s going to cost all of us. The annual increase is less than the average additional annual vehicle repair costs due to poor roads, resulting in saving us money.
If roads aren’t repaired when potholes and cracks first appear they end up with costly reconstruction. The solution may not be perfect, but is needed to ensure our roads do not continue to become worse and cost us even more.
Funding to help maintain the roadways in the city of Concord has been limited, and roadway conditions continue to decline. The funds made available through SB1 would significantly increase the city’s budget to repair and maintain our roadways, improving the local roadways that we use everyday.
On average this plan will cost motorists less than $10 a month, yet it will bring in tens of millions each year to cities and counties across California to fund projects in every community and to fix additional potholes and make more road repairs.
After reviewing, I hope that Assemblyman Tim Grayson and Sen. Steve Glazer see that SB1 provides needed funding to our local streets and roads.
Laura Hoffmeister is the mayor of Concord. Contact her at [email protected].