Friday, February 10, 2006

Business Group Endorses Tax

Business Group Endorses Tax
By Reporter Staff

Representatives of Vacaville's top businesses and manufacturers have endorsed a half-cent sales tax to improve transportation in Solano County.

By a unanimous vote, members of the Council of Major Employers, a collection of the city's largest private companies created by the Vacaville Chamber of Commerce, urged voters to make Solano a "self-help" county to qualify for state and federal money.

"The current condition of the Interstate 80 and I-680 interchange is just one example of the additional cost to business in the prompt delivery of goods and services," the group said in a prepared statement. "The business community also suffers from the increased exasperation of those employees who commute. In addition, the safety of the motoring public is in jeopardy due to increased delays and the inability of emergency personnel to reach stricken motorists."

The tax would raise nearly $1.6 billion over 30 years, according to projections.

The tax's proposed spending plan puts a lot of emphasis on improving key freeways in the county, such as the I-80 and I-680 corridors, but also provides millions of dollars for public transit, senior paratransit and city street and safety improvements.

The Solano County Board of Supervisors and the Vallejo City Council approved the tax plan Tuesday. The city of Vacaville and Dixon are scheduled to vote on it next week.

The supervisors and enough city councils to represent a majority of the county's population must approve the tax's spending plan for it to be placed on the June ballot.

Major Employer Council member John Nerland, CEO of Solano Bank, said, "We will never receive our (Solano) fair share of state and federal tax returns unless we can show our resolve to also help ourselves."

The council representatives also lauded a provision in the tax measure to dedicate 10 percent of the funding to cities to allow them to decide how to spend it on their streets.

Charles Shatzer of Solano Community College said, "Roads are a major factor in where business locates. Those businesses pay taxes that support our county and cities as well as provide jobs for our students."

Gary Passama, president and CEO of NorthBay Healthcare System, said, "Excellent health care, particularly excellent emergency health care, requires a modern transportation system including easily traveled highways. We now have an opportunity to bring outside funding to Solano County for a variety of transportation needs by passing this sales tax measure. It is the wise and healthy thing to do."

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