The Council of San Benito County Governments (COG) got an update on Measure G-related road funding at its Feb. 20 meeting. The measure—a one cent local transactions and use tax to be collected for 30 years to improve local streets and roads—was approved by San Benito voters in 2018.
Measure G funds are administered by COG and pay for specific, voter-approved transportation projects, including Highway 25, local road maintenance and regional projects, and bicycle and pedestrian improvements.
The amount of Measure G funds available in 2019 was $5.1 million. The San Benito County Board of Supervisors previously identified $8 million in road projects, but COG has not allocated the funds to the county.
There are three tiers that funding goes toward: Highway 25 (Tier 1); local street and road maintenance (Tier 2); and other projects (Tier 3). COG board members were concerned with the cost of Tiers 1 and 2 because of timing and funding.
“This is really all about money, if money wasn’t in the way we could do whatever we want,” said Marty Richman, Hollister City Council member and COG director.
Projected funding for Tier 2 in 2019-20:
- San Benito County: $2,869,600
- Hollister: $2,869,600
- San Juan Bautista: $302,100
The Measure G report indicated that there will be a delay regarding Highway 25-related projects due to a lack of funding.
“Our financial projections show that even with bonding it will be difficult to gather the full amount needed to build the Highway 25 expressway in the near‐term,” said COG Executive Director Mary Gilbert after the meeting. “COG has had a few reports on this and is looking at ways to reduce the project cost and complete construction in phases to save taxpayer dollars.”
“Let’s make sure that Highway 25 gets widened and all local roads get fixed too,” said Jaime De La Cruz, a county supervisor and COG director. “We do not want to wait 15 years.”
Hollister Mayor and COG Director Ignacio Velazquez said the city is being conservative about how they spend Measure G funds.
“It is expensive, so we need to be smart about it,” he said, adding that local elected officials will look for additional funding sources.
Tier 2 projects will begin this spring.
“I would like to get our financial people working on that as soon as possible so we do not get caught behind the door way before we even start the project,” Velazquez said.
Updated to provide clarification.