A little over a week after the Goleta City Council decided to withdraw a ballot measure proposal which would have put a half cent sales tax before Goleta voters, the Goleta Valley Chamber of commerce officially endorsed Measure A-the regional half cent sales tax measure which will be on the November ballot in Santa Barbara County. Mayor Michael Bennett announced at last week’s Council meeting that adding the measure to the ballot would have threatened the likelihood that Measure A would pass. Measure A is designed to replace Measure D, the current regional half cent sales tax that funds most of the County’s transportation projects. Since so many of those projects-including the widening of Highway 101 and most of the mass transit options in the area-are dependent upon Measure D money, the passage of Measure A has a certain immediacy to it. A beefed up version of Measure D was given to voters in 2006 as a three quarter cent sales tax, but did not succeed in attracting the two thirds necessary for passage.
“Supporting transportation infrastructure funding, while maintaining a regional approach to common goals, is consistent with the Chamber’s top public policy priorities,” said Jim Knight, chairman of the Chamber’s Board. “Measure A 2008 is vital to Santa Barbara County and we urge the County’s voters to approve it.” In addition to funding such regional benefits such as mass transit and the Safe Routes to School Program, the City of Goleta will receive $42.9 million for road improvements, and $7 million to improve overpasses. “Widening US101 and promoting a variety of options for commuters is of utmost importance to the local business community, while funding for alternative transportation programs benefits local schools and addresses environmental concerns-both of which are extremely important to the community,” said Kristin Amyx, the Chamber’s president and CEO.