With another vote for Measure T renewal on the horizon, city of Madera officials say its street program is underfunded, but the current year's funding paints a different picture. Source: Heather Halsey Martinez

Aug. 2, 2023 — Madera City Council

Documented by Alejandra Obregon

What happened: At Wednesday’s Madera City Council meeting, Deputy City Engineer Ellen Bitter sounded the alarm on the city’s “underfunded” street program, saying it falls short by $3.5 million annually — but noted that this year’s funding ballooned to $9.8 million bolstered by carryover funds and one-time pandemic relief funds.

During a public hearing on the Measure T annual expenditure plan, Bitter said the half-cent sales tax provides 53% of the funding for the city’s street rehab program, which equates to $2.5 million of the $6 million she says is needed to achieve a citywide pavement condition index of 68% for collector and arterial roads.

“We are underfunded in our street program,” Bitter said. “So it does create a backlog of projects.”

While Measure T does provide 53% of funding for street rehabilitation and reconstruction projects, additional funds come from the Road Maintenance and Rehabilitation Account (RMRA) gas tax, one-time Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 (CRRSAA) and the Local Partnership Program (LPP).

She said this year’s funds include a large carryover that’s accumulated from prior years’ budgets, but warned that it won’t always be available.

The table included in Madera’s Measure T Annual Expenditure Plan for FY 2023/24 shows a total of $9.8 million allocated for street improvement projects.

“We don’t get $9 million every year; we will have somewhat of a windfall this year; we’ll be able to put a lot out on the streets, and then we’ll be back more to our standard allocation of $2.5 to $3 million a year,” Bitter said.

Bid for Measure T renewal on the horizon: The current version of Madera County’s Measure T took effect in April 2007 and is scheduled to sunset in 2027. Voters blocked a Measure T renewal on the 2023 ballot with 47% voting against it, but it is expected to be placed on the 2024 ballot.

Council member Jose Rodriguez advocated for his fellow council members and the public to support Measure T.

“We hope the city will really be able to see how crucial that half-cent sales tax is for us,” Rodriguez said.

Up next: The Madera City Council will meet again on Aug. 16 at 6 p.m.

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