Transportation Authority says no to $10 vehicle registration fee

A proposal to put a $10 increase in vehicle registration fees on the June ballot was narrowly rejected by Sonoma County transit officials in a special meeting Friday.

The fee would have raised $105 million over 20 years for buses, school safety programs and bike and pedestrian paths.

The vote of the 12-member board was 6-5, with 7 votes needed to pass. It was rejected because some members of the Transportation Authority said the measure was being rushed to the June ballot without careful consideration and it was not clear why the money was allocated as it was proposed.

They instead want more discussion with the possibility of putting the measure on the November ballot.

"We have to find out what is achievable with the public," said Petaluma Councilman David Glass. "People are not going to vote to pass something if they don't recognize the need and the gap that will be filled."

Sonoma Councilwoman Laurie Gallian said there was no chance for public input in the rush to meet the March 12 deadline to place the measure on the June ballot and it remained unclear why the money was divided the way it was in the measure.

"The analysis, the discussion, to the public really did not explain what the loss of funding was that this supplemented," Gallian said. "I had a question that 20 years was too long. What happens when the economy recovers?"

Proponents of a June vote, however, said pushing the measure to a November ballot would mean it must compete with other revenue measures, including the State Parks Foundation's own $18 vehicle fee increase for parks.

"I think it's still a good idea, I think it'll be difficult to get it passed in November," said Sebastopol Vice Mayor Guy Wilson. "I'm disappointed it didn't get on the June ballot."

Wilson's vote followed the direction of the Sebastopol City Council which met Friday morning and voted 5-0 to support placing the fee on the June ballot.

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