Next step toward a transportation tax in Stanislaus County: a public survey.
Transportation leaders on Wednesday will consider setting aside money to poll people, asking what they think about the sales tax going up a half-cent to support road and transit projects. Poll results would help the Stanislaus Council of Governments decide whether to pursue asking voters to approve such a transportation tax in November 2016.
StanCOG plans to host focus groups this month and next to gauge which projects are most popular. Information gleaned will help develop questions for the poll.
The focus groups and poll could cost $50,000, a report says.
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A similar survey in early 2014 indicated lukewarm support for a transportation tax that year and more interest in holding off until 2016. That would coincide with a presidential election when more Democrats and young people, who tend to support such tax hikes, are likely to head to voting booths.
A majority of Stanislaus voters said “yes” to transportation measures in 2006 and 2008, but both fell short of the required two-thirds supermajority approval, or 66.67 percent. Such surtaxes typically allocate some proceeds for fixing local streets and others for regional expressways, with some set aside for rail projects.
In other news, spending on transit services for senior and disabled passengers could triple in the next couple of years.
About 5,800 homebound people were missing out on 780,000 trips a year 2009 Stanislaus County Transit Needs Assessment Study
Paratransit Inc., a Sacramento-based shuttle operation, won a contract to help create a Stanislaus service in 2010 and has done a good job since, a report says. With more money and a new three-year contract, Paratransit could expand a volunteer driver program, dispatch another van service for veterans and create a website for regional transportation services, the report says.
While taxis and dial-a-ride services generally pick up people at the curb, Paratransit’s BRIDGES volunteer driver program helps people from inside their homes all the way through the doors of their destinations, called door-through-door service. It’s typically used for shopping trips, medical appointments and social events, and drivers’ gas can be reimbursed. BRIDGES provided 9,932 one-way trips in the past year.
If approved Wednesday, the new contract would jump from $200,000 next year to $650,000 in 2016 and $700,000 in 2017.
Wednesday’s StanCOG meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the third-floor boardroom at 1111 I St., Modesto. For more information, go to www.stancog.org/pdf/policy-board/agendas/2015/pb-agenda-05-20-2015.pdf.
Garth Stapley: (209) 578-2390