TransNet tax examined By Joe Naiman

The extension of the half-cent TransNet sales tax took effect in 2008, continuing the TransNet tax which has been collected since 1988.

The current TransNet tax will run through 2048 although the tax can be extended beyond that with voter approval. The TransNet or­dinance also requires that the San Diego Association of Governments conduct a 10-year comprehensive program review, which was ap­proved by a 17-0 vote at the July 27 SANDAG board meeting with representatives from El Cajon and Imperial Beach absent.

The review had both a “look back” component and a “look ahead” element with the latter us­ing the results from the former as a basis to consider potential revisions to the expenditure plan and other provisions of the ordinance. The po­tential revisions include modifying the local streets and roads ratio be­tween congestion relief and mainte­nance, modifying the local streets and roads project eligibility require­ments, and evaluating whether the current list of uncompleted projects constitutes the best mix to achieve congestion relief and other Trans­Net goals.

“The needs of our local popula­tion are different than they were ten years ago,” said SANDAG senior TransNet program manager Ari­ana zur Nieden.

The TransNet sales tax is divid­ed between highways, transit, and local streets and roads. Currently at least 70 percent of funding for local streets and roads must be used for congestion relief while up to 30 percent may be used for main­tenance. In addition to a potential modification of that ratio, potential revisions include modifying the categorical definitions of the typical types of eligible facili­ties under each category.

The report suggests that SAN­DAG staff utilize a coordinated approach to re-evaluate the list of unfinished projects based on the overall transportation network scenario development process be­ing used for the Regional Trans­portation Plan whose next update is slated for 2019.

“Technology has changed over the last decade,” zur Nie­den said. “Changes to the proj­ect mix may be warranted.”

The costs, resources, benefits, and challenges associated with implementing such changes will likely be brought to a SAN­DAG committee for further re­view


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