Marin Independent Journal: Larkspur plans road repairs boosted by gas tax

September 24, 2017

September 24, 2017
By: Adrian Rodriguez

More than two miles of deteriorating Larkspur streets are slated to be repaved next summer thanks to the $115,000 the city is expected to collect from the state gas tax increase effective Nov. 1.

The Larkspur City Council has approved a project list and budget adjustment needed to secure the funding.

The city is in line to receive about $230,000 annually in tax dollars for road repair starting in the 2018-19 fiscal year, said Julian Skinner, director of public works.

“That’s only 5 percent (in dollars) of our current paving need,” Skinner said.

He said Larkspur’s pothole-pocked roads are due for $25 million to $30 million of work. The city is hoping voters will approve Measure B on Nov. 7 so that the city could incur the debt to develop an accelerated five-year plan to fix neighborhood roads.

“Now, if we were able to get our streets up into a better condition, that $230,000 a year would represent a better portion of our annual rehabilitation costs,” Skinner said.

The project to be funded by the gas tax, Senate Bill 1, includes streets in the Larkspur Marina, the Palm Hill neighborhood and portions of Madrone and Murray avenues.

The city’s budget this year includes $1.1 million in revenue from Measure C, the city’s half-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2014. About $1 million of that is going toward road rehabilitation projects. The gas tax will supplement these funds for road repairs.

Measure B is a three-quarter-cent sales tax heading to voters on Nov. 7 as a replacement for Measure C. It is expected to net $1.65 million annually.

Skinner said that without Measure B, streets will deteriorate faster than the city can fix them.

Mayor Kevin Haroff said that while the funds from the gas tax are welcome, they are not enough for “what we are trying to accomplish with Measure B.”

“We can’t rely upon SB 1 to make a material difference in terms of what we have to spend on, what we have to accomplish,” he said.

The gas tax program will hike gas taxes 12 cents per gallon and diesel taxes 20 cents per gallon, starting Nov. 1. It will create new vehicle license fees starting Jan. 1.

The nearly half of California drivers whose cars are worth less than $5,000 would pay a $25 fee each year, while those with vehicles valued between $5,000 and $25,000 — about 40 percent of drivers in the state — would pay $50. Drivers of the highest-end luxury cars would pay as much as $175 more.

The state also would charge $100 per year, starting in 2020, for electric vehicles.

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