Group rebuts VC Transportation tax measure

By George Miller

Former Congressman Elton Gallegly, Ventura County Supervisor Peter Foy, Thousand Oaks Councilman Rob McCoy and Las Virgennes School Board Member Kelly Long are all firmly opposed to the half-cent, $3 billion Ventura County Transportation Tax Measure (AA) and intend to do something about it.

The group today filed a rebuttal argument to the initiative. The document, submitted to VC County Clerk Recorder/Registrar Mark Lunn, summarizes some objections to the tax plan (see below).

VCTransportationTaxRebuttal

                     (Download a larger version of VCTC argument)

 

They mentioned that the proposed tax was “temporary,” in quotation marks, which implies skepticism that it would truly be temporary. In any case, 30 years is a long time. They pointed out that it was too vague, “full of generalities and short on specifics,” more taxes with insufficient provisions to instill accountability for it all. Another objection is that the cities would only get half of the funding. The rest goes elsewhere. 

The group plans to shortly commence a public education program to show why the tax and accompanying vague plan with no guarantee of results or uses, is a poor idea.

The group members are all known as fairly Conservative locally.  Elton Gallegly  is strongly committed to stopping this tax, which needs a2/3 majority to pass–again.  He told us today that although we need infrastucture, the plan is deeply flawed, expensive and vague. He disputes some of the priorities in it. He said that grassroots opposition is building and also that certain business interests, particularly auto dealers and their customers would be hit hard, with $200-600 added to the cost of a vehicle, for which owners already pay very significant taxes to acquire, own and use. He said that Californians want cars- it is embedded into the culture, as well as the geography and architecture of Southern California.

Gallegly said that many “buses and trains are empty.” The total costs to run them are enormous and they are nowhere near self funding. At an Oxnard City Council meeting a couple of months ago, we learned that bus services are taking in about 20- cents for every dollar spent. The rest is government subsidies, provided by taxpayers.  They are not even close to self-funding. The proposed new tax would add to these subsidies. The former Congressman and Simi Valley Mayor also revealed that dial-a-ride round trips pencil out to about $128 each, offset by a couple of dollars in fares each way, so enormous subsidies are required. Would it be cheaper to just pay for a cab or Uber/Lyft?

He compared the plan to the much-criticized CA high speed rail program.

 

A Pro-Measure AA Group

On the other hand, another group which calls itself Ventura County Citizens for Traffic Relief, a “campaign committee,” has assembled to promote the tax, but is definitely not Conservative. Per the VC Star, this one consists of County Supervisors Kathy Long (co-chair),  Steve Bennett and John Zaragoza; Sheriff Geoff Dean; Chuck Cohen (co-chair ) former Thousand Oaks City Councilman and land use attorney; Limoneira CEO Harold Edwards; the Southern California District Council of Laborers, Local Union 585; Natalie Mussi, CEO of Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center; and the Ventura Chamber of Commerce.

Darren Kettle, Director of the Ventura County Transportation Commission  (author of the tax/plan) says that the organization is not permitted by law to advocate it.  But he sure had us fooled at some city council meetings where he made a completely pro-Measure AA pitch. The Commission voted unanimously to put the tax on the November ballot.

Kettle and other proponents said that there is a significant funding gap to provide what they say is needed infrastrucure. He had been doing a roadshow presentation all over the county to promote getting the new tax/plan on the ballot. He and other tax supporters believe that this is the most practical way to fund the gap. This would be still another tax, on top of increased existing taxes and new ones added, such as “cap and trade,” which is a de facto tax, levied on manufacturers via buying “carbon credits,” which are merely hidden and added into the price of products. Supporters also point out that this funding may also enable “matching funds” grants from federal or state sources. The plan is also partially an attempt to shift from the car culture to alternative means of transportation, using alternative energy sources. The emphasis is not merely on providing infrastructure, but doing it in a way which reduces “carbon emissions,” which they believe contributes greatly to Global Warming”/Climate Change.

Proponents have said that the tax would help fund highway 101 and 118 widening, refurbishment, bridges and interchanges as well as other major roads, an elevated railroad crossing on Rice Ave. in Oxnard, along with various other rail, bus, bicycle, pedestrian, signage and other projects.

The rough-cut proposal calls for expenditures as follows:

TransportationTaxUses

Source: VCTC proposal presentation- Total $3.3 billion

The plan summary presented would allocate about half of the revenues to cities for funding priorities, with little mandates on how they must be used. It is unclear why the cities couldn’t find their own revenue sources and why the county would control the purse strings.

 

So far, we have not seen anything other than the high-level presentation and a report (links below), describing in summary the main priorities and estimated amounts to be spent from the tax. Matching funds and other sources of funding for the projects are not shown. No project details, specifications, schedule, budgets or management system are shown. No ground rules, guarantees or other details which we have seen have been provided to the public. The ballot language has not yet been finalized and posted to the county web site.

 

The Ventura County Transportation Tax docs from 6-14-16 Oxnard City Council meeting:

Document: C-1 VCTC (pdf 17.6 MB)
Document: C-1 Ventura County Transportation Investment and Expenditure Plan (pdf  1,583KB)
Other CJ articles on this subject

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3 Responses to Group rebuts VC Transportation tax measure

  1. Barry Gabrielson October 16, 2016 at 4:26 pm

    The Department of Transportation receives millions of dollars in gasoline taxes per year, from Sacramento, from you and I. In Ventura County, they have a 50M reserve in transportation funds. Raising taxes, when they have a surplus of funds in insane. They also mismanage budgets, dont monitor or control costs, are extremely wasteful, dont care about the taxpayers funds. Make them responsible and accountable to manage their own budgets, personal responsibility, stop demanding the taxpayers to bail them out for their incompetence and mismanagement of funds. You and I don’t pay enough in taxes?

    Reply
  2. William "Bill" Hicks August 5, 2016 at 7:34 am

    A 30 year commitment from people, like me, that will likely be dead in 30 years; to a generation that didn’t vote for it but will be left to pay for it.

    Haven’t we had enough of this from obama and his son moonbeam?

    Reply

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