I was disappointed to learn of Gary Soiseth's opposition to Measure B — the proposed half-cent sales tax dedicated to fixing Turlock roads. However, my disappointment quickly turned to frustration as I read Soiseth's rational for opposing Measure B.
Soiseth begins his argument by stating that 50% of Turlock roads are in assessment districts, a statement that is untrue. According to City records, only 33.8% of Turlock homes are currently in assessment districts. Even so, residents who live in assessment districts will share the same benefit under Measure B as those who live in other areas of town. This is made possible by Measure B’s expenditure plan, which ensures that the funds collected under Measure B will be spent evenly in each of the City’s four quadrants.
He goes on to criticize past City Councils for not undertaking a "line-by-line" review of the City's budget. This statement is also untrue. In 2005, under then Mayor Curt Andre, I served as the Chairman of the 10-member Community Advisory Committee that was formed to review the City’s budget and identify issues and recommend solutions. The annual City budget process is very transparent with public workshops and copies of the budget as well as the annual independent audits of the City’s financial records available on line.
From my experience in reviewing the City’s budget for the past 12 years, I can assure Mr. Soiseth that if he intends to fund road repairs through the City’s General Fund it will come at the cost of essential services. Nearly 80 percent of the City’s current General Fund is dedicated to public safety. Claiming that road repairs can be funded through the General fund is disingenuous.
Mr. Soiseth goes on to claim that Measure B funds could be used to fund transportation projects outside of Turlock. The truth is Measure B funds are dedicated 100 percent to fixing Turlock roads. I was an active advocate and served on campaign committees for both county-wide transportation tax measures. The latest was Measure S in 2008 which was approved by the voters of Turlock only not to reach the two-thirds approval threshold in the rest of the county.
Mr. Soiseth keeps comparing Measure B to the next county-wide proposal. The truth is there is no current county-wide proposal and any Measure B comparisons at this time is pure speculation. If and when StanCOG decides to present another county-wide transportation sales tax to the voters, the citizens of Turlock will have the opportunity to weight its benefits to Turlock versus the actual results of Measure B.
The truth is Measure B is a dedicated sales tax that is 100% dedicated to fixing Turlock roads. Measure B requires 2/3 voter approval, a higher threshold than a general tax, because it's backers want to ensure that it could not be used for other purposes.
To provide additional transparency and accountability Measure B will establish a Citizens Oversight Committee that will review expenditures annually. Additionally, Measure B includes a 7-year sunset clause, which allows the sales tax to end automatically if residents are not happy with its results.
Mr. Soiseth’s “clear vision and bold leadership” is flawed when it comes to fixing Turlock roads. The truth is that Measure B is the best option now for fixing Turlock roads and the citizens of Turlock have the opportunity to take control of fixing Turlock roads by voting YES on Measure B.
— Jim L. Theis