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Ventura County Places 2nd Sales Tax Hike on Ballot

June 16, 2004|Catherine Saillant | Times Staff Writer

Despite some reluctance, Ventura County supervisors voted 4 to 1 Tuesday to place a half-cent sales tax increase measure on the November ballot to pay for road and highway improvements.

The tax increase would raise $1.5 billion over 30 years and initially would be used to widen California 23, California 118 and Lewis Road at Cal State Channel Islands near Camarillo. Proponents of the tax say a stable source of local funding is necessary to begin those and other road projects in the face of shrinking state and federal funds.

Noting that all 10 cities in Ventura County support the measure, Moorpark City Councilman Keith Millhouse urged supervisors to move it to the ballot. Ventura County is the largest county in the state that does not have its own transportation tax, he said.

"Give the people the opportunity to vote on this measure," Millhouse said.

Voters overwhelmingly defeated a half-cent sales tax for highway projects in 1990. But proponents believe that traffic congestion has gotten so bad that motorists will now be ready to open their wallets.

Supervisors in May approved for the ballot a separate quarter-cent sales tax increase measure that would pay for acquisition and preservation of open space. It would raise $260 million over 10 years.

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