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Atascadero to place half-percent sales tax increase for road maintenance on November ballot

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Atascadero may see better roads on the horizon, if voters are so willing.

The City Council voted 5-0 on June 24 to place a measure on the Nov. 4 ballot for a half-percent sales tax increase to generate funds for road maintenance. Atascadero is the only city in San Luis Obispo County that has yet to do so. If the measure passes in November, it will generate an estimated $2 million a year during a 12-year period and greatly augment the $1 to $1.3 million the city has been spending each year. The funds would be used for upkeep on the 139 miles of city-maintained roads, many of which stretch into long, windy country roads.

The funds would come as a great relief for the city, which generates the lowest general revenue per capita of all cities in the county yet has the most lane miles to maintain.

Public Works Director Russ Thompson said that the measure comes after his department has gone to great lengths to conduct necessary maintenance with existing funds.

“It’s getting harder and harder to find those road maintenance dollars and we are continuing to lose the battle,” Thompson told New Times.

City officials have conducted several public meetings and workshops on the ballot measure and say that while the public may not exactly be gung-ho about a new tax, there is a general understanding of the necessity to generate more revenue.

In the long term, there will be cost-saving benefits to the measure, Thompson said, because increased front-end work on pavement preservation leads to a decrease in major road repairs, which may save a little money down the road.

-- Melody DeMeritt - former city council member, Morro Bay

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