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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on April 10th, 2019, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 20, Issue 6 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 20, Issue 6

Lompoc to use state, county funds to help aging roads

By CHRIS MCGUINNES

The city of Lompoc will receive millions of dollars from state and county revenue sources to help fix and maintain its roads, but officials say its not nearly enough to truly tackle the expensive maintenance costs for the city’s streets.



BUMP IN THE ROAD
Lompoc will accept funding from the county and state to maintain its roads, but officials say it’s not enough.
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CITY OF LOMPOC

At an April 2 regular meeting, members of the Lompoc City Council voted unanimously to accept funds collected from Santa Barbara County through the Measure A sales tax and from the state’s SB 1 gas tax increase. Along with other revenue, the funds will provide more than $5 million for the city to maintain and improve its roads and streets in the coming fiscal year. However, the funds are far short of the more than $10 million needed for street maintenance for the same year. 



 
“The road needs exceed revenues,” Craig Dierling, a principal civil engineer with the city, told the council at the meeting. 
 



Passed by Santa Barbara County voters in 2008, Measure A authorized a half-cent transportation sales tax. The measure is expected to provide more than $1 billion in local revenue for transportation projects in the county over the next 30 years, according to the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments. Lompoc will receive $2.2 million of Measure A revenue, making up about 44 percent of what the city’s receiving for street maintenance. Dierling said Measure A was the city’s largest source of road maintenance revenue.

SB 1 was passed by California legislators and signed into law by then Gov. Jerry Brown in 2017. The law generated funding for road repair projects by increasing the state’s gas tax and vehicle registration fees. In the next fiscal year, Lompoc will receive $740,517 in SB 1 funding, making up only 14 percent of its total road maintenance revenues.


While funding from both Measure A and SB 1 will help, Dierling was quick to point out that the revenue was far less that what it actually costs keep the city’s roads and streets in good condition.


Because of this, the overall condition rating of the city dropped, Dierling added. Still, he said, the city does what it can to keep the roads in condition by strategically making repairs and using cost-effective measures to extend the life and condition of the pavement.


“Because [the needs] exceed revenues, the city significantly reduced street operations and street capital projects,” he said.


During the meeting, Councilmember Jim Mosby expressed frustration with the revenue gap, saying that he’d heard that SB 1 would cost a family $700 annually. Based on that, he claimed that Lompoc families paid nearly $7 million to the state under SB 1 but saw less than $1 million of it come back.


“It seems like the whole design of this is set up to fail,” he said.
   
City Manager Jim Throop said part of the reason for a decrease in road funding was due to increasing vehicle fuel efficiency and the relatively stagnant state of California’s gas tax prior to SB 1, despite rising prices and costs.
   
“It’s a no-win situation,” Throop said. “It’s been that way for the whole state of California.”
   
Throop recommended that the council accept the money, which it did.
   
“We’ve gone through this before,” said Councilmember Victor Vega. “I think it’s something where we can’t leave the state money on the table.”




Weekly Poll
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