Measure C is on the ballot this November to fix potholes and repair our roads in South Lake Tahoe. Our aging streets are failing. Dangerous potholes and cracks must be repaired immediately to improve road safety and protect motorists, cyclists, pedestrians and children. Measure C will make the repairs our neglected roads desperately need.
Factually incorrect information about Measure C has been circulating in our community. To help set the record straight, we are sharing the myths that have been circulated—and the facts that dispute them. When you study the facts we think you’ll agree that Measure C is the only realistic plan to fix our crumbling roads.
Here are the facts:
MYTH: Measure C funds can be used for purposes other than fixing South Lake Tahoe roads.
FACT: By law, funds from Measure C may ONLY be used to repair local roads. Under state law, Measure C is categorized as a special tax measure requiring approval from 66.7% of voters, which means funds may only be used for the specific purposes described in the measure. Read the full text of Measure C in your sample ballot or click here to see the road improvements that are eligible for Measure C funding. Also read the City Attorney’s impartial analysis that states:
“The increased revenue generated by [Measure C] shall only be used to fund the repair, maintenance and construction of City streets. As a special tax measure, all proceeds of the tax levied shall be accounted for and paid into a special fund only for the repair, maintenance and construction of City streets. No proceeds of this measure may be used for the construction, maintenance and/or repair of state or county streets, roads or highways. All revenue expended shall be audited and reviewed by the Independent Citizens’ Oversight Committee, which was established by the City Council for that purpose.” Source: South Lake Tahoe City Attorney’s Impartial Analysis of Measure C
MYTH: Funds from this measure will go to the proposed Tahoe Loop Road, which we already voted down.
FACT: The legally-binding text of Measure C specifically prohibits funds from being used for the Loop Road or any other road outside of the city limits. Measure C funds may not be used for improvements on County or State owned highways or roads. Funds from Measure C can only be used for road improvements within the City of South Lake Tahoe. Diverting any Measure C funds to the proposed Tahoe Loop Road would be illegal.
MYTH: Measure C will create a new expensive bureaucracy and very little of the money will actually go to road repairs.
FACT: To ensure that Measure C funds are only used for repairing local roads, the funds will be held in a separate account to be managed by a Roads Management Authority (RMA). The RMA will potentially require the creation of one (1) new staff position to manage the program. All other activities will be performed by existing staff and using existing resources. An appointed independent Citizens’ Oversight Committee will review the use of Measure C funds and report to the community to ensure funds are spent as promised. All members of the Citizens’ Oversight Committee will be unpaid volunteers. The legally-binding text of Measure C specifically requires that the Citizens’ Oversight Committee be comprised of seven to eleven unpaid representatives from the Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce, the South Tahoe Chamber of Commerce, a senior citizens’ organization, the small business community, an active neighborhood group, Lake Tahoe Community College, a resident at-large, a local service organization and/or the South Lake Tahoe Lodging Association. These representatives will not be on the City’s payroll and will not be eligible for health or retirement benefits. This is the same oversight process used by the Lake Tahoe Unified School District and Lake Tahoe Community College for their facility bond programs.
MYTH: The City doesn’t have a plan for how they will use Measure C funds to fix our roads.
FACT: This is untrue. The City has graded the condition of every road in South Lake Tahoe to establish priorities for the most urgently needed repair and improvements. The City has developed a detailed Road Maintenance and Improvement Expenditure Plan (Exhibit A) and budget to guide the systematic improvement of South Lake Tahoe roads starting in 2018. These improvements are only possible with dedicated funding for road repairs from Measure C.
MYTH: Road maintenance is a basic city service and can be paid for from the existing budget.
FACT: When the City incorporated in 1965 it inherited poorly constructed roads composed of a thin layer of asphalt on top of old unpaved dirt roads. Without an appropriate base layer or drainage, these roads are expensive to maintain and destined to fail. While the City has performed ongoing repair and maintenance, many of these roads need to be replaced with roads built to an appropriate standard for our Alpine environment and use by millions of residents and visitors each year. Approximately $41 million in needed road improvements have been identified, which is well beyond the scope of the City’s current budget. The only realistic means of addressing our crumbling roads in a timely fashion is to create a dedicated funding source like Measure C. Waiting will only allow our roads to further deteriorate and become more expensive to repair. Voter-approved dedicated funding for road improvements has been utilized by other nearby communities like Truckee and Placerville to fix potholes and improve their roads.
MYTH: The City Council has a history of mismanagement and cannot be trusted to manage Measure C.
FACT: While past city councils made controversial decisions long ago, the City’s has consistently demonstrated strong fiscal responsibility since the Great Recession. Over the past seven years, the City of South Lake Tahoe has maintained a balanced budget by bringing expenses in line with revenues and attracting nearly a billion dollars in local investments that have created good jobs and stimulated our economy. To ensure the current and future city councils manage Measure C funds properly, Measure C includes legally-binding safeguards and accountability requirements so that these funds can ONLY be used to fix potholes and repair roads. Measure C will be managed by a separate Roads Management Authority, and an independent Citizens’ Oversight Committee will review all expenditures and report their findings to the public. Annual independent audits of Measure C funds are mandatory. By law, no funds can ever be taken by the State or used by the City Council for other purposes.
MYTH: This measure creates an unfair burden on local taxpayers. Visitors should pay for road improvements.
FACT: Measure C funds roads with a modest increase in our local sales tax rate that is paid by anyone who shops in South Lake Tahoe. This funding sources was specifically selected because it will result in visitors paying the majority of the cost of the improved roads they use when they visit our city. Purchases of essential items like groceries and medicine are exempt from the cost of Measure C, which reduces the amount that local taxpayers will pay. Measure C adds just 50 cents to a $100 purchase of taxable items.
MYTH: The new statewide gas tax will pay for South Lake Tahoe’s road repair needs.
FACT: Funds from the statewide gas tax go primarily to improving state and county roads. South Lake Tahoe is only projected to receive $100,000-$150,000 in funding from the gas tax in its first year. Approximately $3.5 million in annual road repairs are needed in South Lake Tahoe. Gas tax funding will not be able to meet even 5% of our road needs and is not a realistic solution to our current road repair problem.
MYTH: The City tried to pass a similar measure in 2016 and Measure C is the same thing.
FACT: Measure C is significantly different from Measure U on the November 2016 ballot. Measure U was a general use sales tax proposal that could have been used to fund any city service or program at the discretion of the City Council. Measure C is a special use sales tax, which means funds are legally restricted for road repairs ONLY. Measure C is also written to mandate fiscal accountability provisions, including an independent Citizens’ Oversight Committee, annual audits and a Roads Management Authority to manage the funding separate from the regular city budget.
MYTH: The recently passed Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) funds could be used to repair our roads.
FACT: When local voters passed Measure P in 2016, these funds were legally earmarked for rebuilding and revitalizing the South Lake Tahoe Recreation Center. These funds cannot be diverted for road repairs and maintenance.
MYTH: Voters passed a similar sales tax measure in 2004, which should have fixed our streets.
FACT: In 2004, local voters approved Measure Q to prevent deep cuts to public safety and other essential services resulting from reductions in state funding following the economic downturn and state budget crisis of the early 2000’s. Measure Q funds helped stabilize the city budget and avoid further cuts during the housing crisis and Great Recession. Some Measure Q funding was dedicated to basic ongoing road maintenance, but this funding source is not sufficient to support the rebuilding of our local roads without making deep cuts to services currently funded with these dollars. Measure C is the only solution that provides dedicated funding that will be used exclusively to fix our roads and can never be taken by the State.