County will ask voters for $10 bump in vehicle fees

Sonoma County transportation planners Monday supported a proposal to put a $10 vehicle registration fee increase on the November ballot to fund buses, bike paths and school safety programs.

"We are voting here to give voters a chance to make this decision," said Sonoma County Supervisor Shirlee Zane.

The Sonoma County Transportation Authority board also supported giving the lion's share, 68 percent, to the Sonoma County, Santa Rosa, Petaluma and Healdsburg bus systems.

The proposal would also allocate 15 percent for Safe Routes to Schools programs, 12 percent for bicycle and pedestrian paths and 5 percent for administrative costs.

If the fee passes in November, it would raise $105 million over 20 years.

The board rejected using any of the funds for road maintenance after some members noted the Obama Administration's stimulus funds in Sonoma County targeted roads, but not transit.

"I want to remind everyone that the majority of greenhouse gases are emitted from transportation, and fixing potholes doesn't do anything to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or help safety for kids and bicyclists," Zane said.

Petaluma Councilman David Glass, however, said his council was adamant some of the money be returned to the individual cities, and he didn't believe voters would approve the measure if it didn't.

"There will be a lot of concern in Petaluma when people put out messages that hundreds of thousands of dollars are going out to the region without any coming back to the city," Glass said.

Zane said, however, that Petaluma stands to get $402,000 a year for its bus system and is also served by Sonoma County Transit, which would receive $1.7 million a year.

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