Tax’s failure leaves funding gap

Now that Measure F, a proposed sales-tax hike, failed by a razor-thin margin in the Nov. 6 election, officials say there is no available funding to finish projects in a timely manner.

The measure, which would have boosted the sales tax by half a cent, came in fewer than 100 votes short — 2,545 to 2,634 — of the simple majority required for its passage, according to results from the San Mateo County Elections Office.

A library was among the top priorities for Measure F funding. Library Director Terry Jackson said she and City Manager Connie Jackson would be discussing the next steps within the next couple weeks before determining Plan B, if one can in fact be created.

“We have an extremely tight budget, and the failure of Measure F leaves us unable to make significant progress on any of these items,” Jackson said.

Fire Chief Dan Voreyer said the Fire Department, which also would have benefited from the measure’s passage, was awaiting direction from the City Manager’s Office. Discussions about sharing further services with the Millbrae Fire Department are still in the works, he said.

A sales-tax hike was especially attractive to city officials, who, in 2001, attempted to pass a $13 million bond measure to fund, among other items, a new library to replace the aging structure on Angus Avenue. After June poll results, conducted by Half Moon Bay-based Godbe Research, indicated that some 73 percent of voters would support a sales tax of 8.75 percent, passage of the measure appeared to be in place.

But City Councilmembers Jim Ruaneand Ken Ibarra said inaccurate information about the intent of the measure, mainly put out by one-time City Council hopeful Miguel Araujo, contributed to the loss.

Councilmember Irene O’Connell had said she thinks libraries should be placed in the same category as schools, which can pass construction bonds by only 55 percent, instead of a two-thirds majority. She said she would lobby for such consideration if Measure F failed.

Measure’s flop trips up program

Cutting and grinding roots down appears to be the way to keep unwieldy trees under control and sidewalk repair budgets down, an especially important endeavor now that a hoped-for revenue stream will not be coming into city coffers.

Additional phases of the city’s sidewalk program is one item that cannot be funded now that Measure F, a November ballot measure that would have boosted the city sales tax by half a cent, has officially failed. Though $65,000 has already been spent on sidewalk repair and another $185,000 was recently approved, available funding will stop there, City Manager Connie Jackson said.

City Engineer Steve Davis said progress has been made on the sidewalk repair program, noting that all the available funds have been used for rubberized sidewalks, known to better accommodate roots that are likely to spread out. The city will likely apply in a year for more grant funding after evaluating the effectiveness of the rubberized material, he said.

When roots are cut, they eventually grow back and continue tearing up sidewalk. The solution to keeping tree roots under control is to cut the roots and grind them down, Davis said.

Tree removal — and preservation — has been a touchy subject in neighboring communities. In Burlingame, a towering eucalyptus, affectionately dubbed “Tom,” was recently cut down after a heated debate about whether to scale back its ever-expanding roots or remove it entirely for safety reasons.

tramroop@examiner.com

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