Subscribe

SMART set to finalize sales tax renewal March ballot measure

The "Follow This Story" feature will notify you when any articles related to this story are posted.

When you follow a story, the next time a related article is published — it could be days, weeks or months — you'll receive an email informing you of the update.

If you no longer want to follow a story, click the "Unfollow" link on that story. There's also an "Unfollow" link in every email notification we send you.

This tool is available only to subscribers; please make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

Please note: This feature is available only to subscribers; make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

Subscribe

SMART board meeting

When: 1:30 p.m., Wednesday

Where: 5401 Old Redwood Highway North, Petaluma

SMART will meet Wednesday to finalize its plan to seek voter approval for early renewal of its quarter-cent sales tax on the March ballot.

The Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit board is slated to cast a final vote at rail agency headquarters in Petaluma during its bimonthly meeting. The 12-member board, which is primarily represented by elected officials from Sonoma and Marin counties, has for months considered the sales-tax extension about a decade early before unanimously voting last month to pursue the measure in the spring.

If placed on the March ballot, the 30-year tax extension will require a two-thirds majority to pass. Voters in the two counties passed the 2008 measure to fund SMART with 70% support, while the first attempt in 2006 narrowly failed with 65% of voters backing the quarter-cent sales tax.

Without early renewal of the 20-year tax, staff with SMART have warned of the need for deep cuts to its train service and workforce because of rising debt costs. It could mean up to an estimated $9 million slashed from its projected $63 million annual operating budget in upcoming years, said Erin McGrath, SMART’s chief financial officer.

SMART projects the sales tax will generate $50 million in its first year when its current tax expires in 2029, and an average of $80 million per year through 2059. In the fiscal year that ended June 30, the tax raised $41.2 million, McGrath said.

SMART operates along a 43-mile line, from San Rafael to north of Santa Rosa at its current northern terminus near Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport. The rail agency expects to add another 2 miles of train service when it opens its southern extension to Larkspur by the end of the year, in addition to a new station in downtown Novato.

The North Bay’s commuter rail agency also oversees segments of a paved multiuse pathway intended to one day run beside the entire 70-mile system originally envisioned north to Cloverdale. The pathway so far stretches 21 miles, and construction is ongoing to extend it.

You can reach Staff Writer Kevin Fixler at 707-521-5336 or kevin.fixler@pressdemocrat.com.

SMART board meeting

When: 1:30 p.m., Wednesday

Where: 5401 Old Redwood Highway North, Petaluma

Show Comment

Our Network

Sonoma Index-Tribune
Petaluma Argus Courier
North Bay Business Journal
Sonoma Magazine
Bite Club Eats
La Prensa Sonoma
Emerald Report
Spirited Magazine