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The San Luis Obispo Council of Governments is looking into a 0.5% sales tax increase for roads

According to SLOCOG's regional transportation plan, they expect a $2.3 billion shortfall over the next 23 years.
SLOCOG
Posted at 11:21 PM, Sep 18, 2023

The San Luis Obispo Council of Governments is looking into a 0.5% sales tax increase to help county road projects.

The average miles per gallon of vehicles has roughly doubled over the last 30 years, and while that’s good for the environment. There may be some unintended consequences in San Luis Obispo.

“I’d love for the gas crisis to keep going up because it will encourage more people to buy electric cars,” Heppe said.

Steve Heppe and his wife are passing through California in their electric car.

“There’s a real benefit of having electric and we should encourage it,” Heppe said.

They are using San Luis Obispo County roads but no gas.

“With efficiency and EVS, there’s less gas tax paid," Worthley said. "My agency works on federal and state gas tax to fund the road improvements that we can find. And less money means less revenues to go out to fix the problems we are seeing on a regular basis."

James Worthley is the Division Planning Chief for the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments. According to SLOCOG's regional transportation plan they expect a $2.3 billion shortfall over the next 23 years.

A proposed SLO County sales tax of 0.5% could raise $35 million a year for projects.

“That money would be divided up based on an expenditure plan that’s laid out to the voters and to my board and the city counsels and find out exactly where the money will be spent,” Worthley said.

Since they are in the early stages, they are asking community members where they could spend the money.

“Right now we are a lot of people identifying potholes and road maintenance as the big issues and we are finding that there is an identification of safe routes to school and active transportation or bikeway projects that others are bringing forward,” Worthley said.

Worthley says the process will take time and collaboration with the community and local officials before it could be put on the ballot in November of next year.

“If it does land in November of 2024 or a future election it would go to the voters. It would require ⅔ vote to pass,” Worthley said.

The county says this proposed sales tax will not impact groceries, medical expenses or housing.

Residents can learn more here.