In 2014 the residents of Turlock had the opportunity to make significant progress in repairing and maintaining our roads with the passage of Measure B. The City of Turlock had completed an independent pavement assessment earlier that year which identified the deferred street maintenance at $65 million and the annual cost of $10 million to reverse the declining pavement conditions. Measure B would have raised almost $6 million per year with all of the money staying local and dedicated to repairing Turlock streets.
Then mayoral candidate Soiseth expressed his opposition to Measure B, and he promised that he had a “better plan” and as a result Measure B was narrowly defeated with approximately 61 percent voter approval versus the needed 66.7 percent. The “better plan” ended up being the county-wide Measure L which was approved in 2016 – the same one-half cent sales tax but with only 50 percent of the tax revenue going to fix Turlock roads. Over the next 25 years, Turlock residents are projected to pay increased sales taxes of $146.6 million and receive only $73.3 million for Turlock roads or an average of $2.9 million/year – far short of what is needed to improve street conditions. In comparison, passage of Measure B would have generated almost $24 million over the past 4 years with all funds dedicated to Turlock road repairs.
Nearly two years after passage of Measure L, the City of Turlock was one of the last cities in Stanislaus County to announce its first Measure L project – the West Main Corridor Improvement. The Mayor stated in his remarks at the ground breaking that “our strategy is to make our dollars stretch and benefit the most motorists possible.” What he failed to mention was that the cost of this project was double original estimate and the $6.1 million cost would take all of the funds available and push back any additional street repairs for another two years. Hard to see how this stretches the road repair dollars and benefits the most Turlock residents. The 25-year Measure L spending plan is already obsolete before completing the first project.
Mayor Soiseth’s willingness to mislead the residents of Turlock to further his personal political objectives is unfortunate. His “clear and bold leadership” remains flawed when it comes to fixing Turlock roads and he is correct in saying “no more kicking the cans down the road” – it will not be an option because of all of the potholes.
— Jim L. Theis