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Measure C spending plan is one vote away from being placed on the November ballot

Community members hold signs during Fresno Council of Governments meeting to vote on the Measure C expenditure plan July 7, 2022.
Soreath Hok
Community members hold signs during Fresno Council of Governments meeting to vote on the Measure C expenditure plan July 7, 2022.

The Fresno County Transportation Authority approved another vote Wednesday needed to get the controversial Measure C transportation tax on the November ballot. The spending plan passed in a 7-1 vote. Next, it heads to the Fresno County Board of Supervisors for a final approval.

The Measure C renewal 30-year spending plan funds transportation projects throughout Fresno County including 15 incorporated cities, with the two largest making up the metropolitan areas of Fresno (53.26%) and Clovis (11.87%). The $6.8 billion measure dedicates most of the funding to local neighborhood street repairs, something that Fresno County Supervisor Buddy Mendes said is one of the most requested services from people who live in rural communities.

“All the complaints I get are road complaints, wanting to know. We need our roads fixed,” he said. Mendes, who serves on the Fresno County Transportation Authority, voted in favor of the plan.

“I think it's a good plan. It's not the greatest plan. But what I would think is the greatest plan, they might even like it less,” he said. “Nobody's ever totally satisfied with any of these plans. It's like making sausage.”

Opposition to the plan has dominated public comment periods ahead of previous votes to approve the spending plan at the Fresno Council of Governments, Fresno County Board of Supervisors and Wednesday’s Fresno County Transportation Authority vote.

Marianne Kast, director of the League of Women Voters of Fresno criticized the process. She claimed the revised spending plan was rushed against the will of voters. “It's just been a constant struggle to get public input,” she said.

Kast was one of nine members of community groups that signed a letter raising legal concerns around the Measure C renewal process. The letter cited Brown Act violations and environmental impact concerns of the proposed plan. The letter was delivered Wednesday to the Fresno County Board of Supervisors, Fresno Council of Governments and Fresno County Transportation Authority.

“I think the people who were on the executive committee and to some degree, also the technical working group developing the renewal measure were largely people with a stake in the game. In other words, developers and business people who stand to gain,” she said. But Kast fully expects the plan to be approved for the November ballot when the supervisors take their vote in August.

“I think we're gonna watch it happen and we're going to mount the “No on C” Campaign which is really sad because each of us wants a Measure C,” she said. “We do want a transportation tax. We’ve seen that it’s benefited our County, but now it’s time to move in the direction that the rest of the world is moving.” Kast said she believes the spending plan doesn’t address enough public transportation needs for an area where poverty and distance can hinder the ability of residents to go to school, medical appointments and more.

Mendes disagreed. He said the measure addresses the concerns of residents who want roads fixed, especially those living in rural areas. He said voters should be able to decide for themselves as soon as possible in November. “My answer to them is, are you afraid to have it on the ballot?” he said. “There's no risk because if it doesn't pass you've got time to put one back on which would be about almost a two-year process.”

If voters don’t pass the measure in November, Mendes said he’s not afraid to go back and start over again. That means working on the plan through 2023 with a goal of getting the measure on the 2024 ballot.

Soreath Hok is a multimedia journalist with experience in radio, television and digital production. She is a 2022 National Edward R. Murrow Award winner. At KVPR she covers local government, politics and other local news.