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Supervisors Wary of Road-Funding Plan : Seek Public Support for Using Property Tax to Expand Freeways

September 24, 1986|JOHN NEEDHAM | Times County Bureau Chief

The Board of Supervisors Tuesday sent a proposal to use property tax money to finance new freeway lanes to the Orange County Transportation Commission with instructions not to bring it back to the board without broad public support.

Ralph B. Clark, supervisors' chairman, called the proposal "an innovative way to try to help our troubled freeway system," but he added that the transportation commission would have to give the supervisors more information.

Supervisor Bruce Nestande, however, said the proposal was of dubious merit because it must be approved by county voters who two years ago rejected a proposed sales tax increase for transportation improvements. Nestande also said the proposal would raise only $25 million a year even if the voters approved it.

Nestande suggested that other means of financing transportation improvements be studied and programs that would suffer from the revenue transfer be identified before any action is taken on the proposal.

Nestande persuaded Supervisors Harriett M. Wieder and Roger Stanton to join him in requiring that the OCTC report back to the supervisors only after it garnered "broad-based community support" for the redistribution of the money.

In an effort to finance freeway improvements, James Roosevelt, a former OCTC chairman, suggested earlier this year that a portion of property tax revenue collected in the future be diverted to a newly formed freeway authority, which would expand existing freeways.

Clark noted that "because (the proposal) would redistribute existing resources in a new way, it is bound to stir considerable discussion and debate."

Nestande, a former chairman and current member of the state transportation commission, agreed that the county "critically" needs new money for transportation.

But he said the next transportation "revenue-enhancement measure" submitted to the voters "ought to be a well thought out, community supported, comprehensive" plan.

"We should learn from the defeat of Proposition A," the property-tax increase measure of two years ago, Nestande said. "One very clear conclusion was that the issue was hastily put together, and a community consensus was never secured prior to its appearance on the ballot."

Nestande also argued that before any measure is put on the ballot, alternatives should be considered, including a local option gas tax, a fee paid by employers based on how many employees they have and raising fees on developers.

But Clark said that almost everything mentioned by Nestande "has been studied," and would require a tax hike or is beset by other problems.

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