By Marie Blankley
On Jan. 7, Valley Transportation Authority staff presented the VTA Board with a revised Draft 10-year Vision that allocates 2016 Measure B revenue among the categories of projects to be funded by Measure B over the next 10 years. Among these projects is BART Phase II, capped at 25 percent of Measure B revenue so that funding promised for other categories such as local streets and roads, for example, could not be reduced or eliminated in favor of a mega project such as BART.
Measure B promised the voters an estimated $1.2 billion over 30 years for the improvement of local streets and roads in all 15 cities of Santa Clara County. Since the passage of Measure B, Gilroy has received about $1.8 million annually towards the maintenance of our streets (approximately $800,000 from SB-1 and $1 million from Measure B itself). This much-needed money for all cities across our county is precisely what drove Measure B to the ballot.
At issue now is keeping BART Phase II within its 25 percent cap of Measure B revenue so that funding for local streets and roads, among other programs, isn’t reduced in favor of BART. The revised Draft 10-year Vision proposes outside debt to finance BART Phase II for the money BART needs over and above what it can get from Measure B and other sources. However, that same 10-year Vision suggests that the cost of said financing be omitted from BART Phase II’s 25 percent cap and instead be paid from the remaining Measure B revenue otherwise available for non-BART Phase II programs. The result is that BART Phase II exceeds its 25 percent cap of Measure B tax revenue by the amount of mega financing costs at the expense of all of the other programs, such as local streets and roads.
The importance of being represented throughout this 10-year Vision approval process cannot be overstated. We must insist that total spending on BART Phase II be restricted to no more than 25 percent of the top line total sales tax generated by Measure B and object to alternative calculations that appear to keep BART Phase II within its 25 percent cap when, in fact, it is not.
Gilroy Mayor Marie Blankley serves on the VTA Policy Advisory Committee and is an alternate member of VTA’s Board of Directors.