Ken Carlson

February 24, 2014

County Pulse: Ceres could support road tax spending plan if Mitchell Road interchange is included

The Ceres City Council could give its support to the proposed countywide road tax – if the long-awaited rebuild of the Mitchell Road and Highway 99 interchange receives funding through the sales tax.

County Pulse

County government and health issues in Central Valley

The Ceres City Council could give its support to the proposed countywide road tax – if the long-awaited rebuild of the Mitchell Road and Highway 99 interchange receives funding through the sales tax.

The project to improve the Mitchell and Service Road connections to Highway 99 was one of the projects listed for the Measure S road tax in 2008, which barely fell short of getting two-thirds approval from Stanislaus County voters. So far it is absent from the spending plan for the latest road tax proposal, which was worked into shape at a Stanislaus Council of Governments meeting in January.

StanCOG is asking that the county and its nine cities approve resolutions supporting the expenditure plan. The 1/2-cent sales tax could be put before voters in November.

City staff is suggesting that Ceres council members approve a resolution this evening that supports the expenditure plan “provided that funding is allocated for the Service Road and Mitchell Road interchange project.” Ceres officials want the improvements to be one of the “central corridor” projects in the spending plan.

Jim DeMartini, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, said the county may be jumping the gun on giving its endorsement to the expenditure plan. County supervisors are scheduled to consider the resolution Tuesday. DeMartini said he was aware of Ceres’ concerns.

“I think we are rushing this thing along,” the chairman said.

Beside allocating a huge amount of funding for local street maintenance, the proposed program for the 25-year, 1/2-cent sales tax would set aside $455.9 million for developing regional corridors. Those corridor projects include a north-county expressway; a major effort to widen Highway 132 and upgrade its connections with Highway 99; and improvements to the southern corridor linking Highway 99 in Turlock with Interstate 5 in Patterson.

Art de Werk, interim city manager for Ceres, said a good deal of time and money has been invested in rebuilding the antiquated Mitchell Road interchange, and there’s no reason not to allocate funding for it. “We would expect to see more acknowledgment of the needs of our community,” he said.

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