Napa voters to decide on road repair tax measure

Napa County voters will be asked whether to approve a new road repair tax measure, the Napa County Board of Supervisors decided Tuesday.

The supervisors approved the measure for the Nov. 5 ballot. Should a majority of voters approve the measure — known as Measure U — it would replace the current half-cent road repair tax established by Measure T but tweak it to allow for bonding.

Local sales tax rates, as a result, wouldn’t go up should the measure pass. Measure T currently raises roughly $25 million for road repairs each year, which is split between Napa County and its cities — and Measure U would continue to do that.

Napa Valley Transportation Authority Executive Director Kate Miller said the increased flexibility allowed by the measure would lead to better pavement conditions, help fund several regional projects on Highway 29 and ultimately lower the cost of future maintenance, because being able to pay construction and maintenance costs upfront will lead to reduced costs in the future.

“There is no new tax, and it’s a much better program; it will work much better for everybody,” Miller said.

Should voters approve the measure, it would go into effect July 1, 2025, and stay in place for 30 years.

Local jurisdictions would be allowed to issue debt against future tax revenue through the Napa Valley Transportation Agency, which would manage the bonding, to raise upfront money for larger projects.

The measure also commits $6 million for regional transportation projects — and allows the transportation agency to bond for up to $56 million — that would be committed to projects intended to benefit the entire county.

That includes traffic congestion improvements — via installing roundabouts and other solutions — along key Highway 29 intersections between Napa and American Canyon and between Napa and Sonoma County.

Miller noted that the agency will seek to use the funding to get the projects ready enough to attract grant funding, and then would issue debt if needed to complete the project.

“We’re hoping we’ll be able to get at least two of those projects shelf-ready, maybe more, and then seek competitive grant funds,” Miller said. “We wouldn’t issue any debt until we have confirmed a grant so that we can complete the project. And maybe we never issue the debt. The whole idea of structuring it this way is to avoid a gamble of risking public funds.”

You can reach Staff Writer Edward Booth at 707-521-5281 or [email protected].

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