Months of Fresno County Measure C debate ends. How many votes are needed to pass?
This story was produced by Fresnoland, a nonprofit news organization in partnership with The Fresno Bee.
In a special session Friday afternoon that lasted less than five minutes, the Fresno County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to put Measure C, the county’s transportation sales tax, on the ballot this fall.
For the nearly $7 billion 30-year spending plan to become law, Fresno County voters must support the plan by at least 66%.
Friday’s vote was the final bureaucratic hurdle for Measure C to qualify for the 2022 vote and follows months of controversy, including a series of last-minute changes to the subsequent spending plan by the Dyer administration.
The Fresno City Council voted 5-1 Thursday to approve the plan, although California Attorney General Rob Bonta wrote in a letter urging the council to delay its approval until at least 2024. Another vote is not due until 2027.
Final approval of the vote ends the three-year renewal process
After a one-year delay due to the pandemic, a group of employees from transport agencies, agribusinesses, workers’ representatives, mayors and community organizations met monthly to create a new spending plan for Measure C.
Since committee negotiations began in April 2021, a coalition of community groups wanted the Measure C renewal process to increase local priorities around road repairs, walkable neighborhoods and timely public transit in both urban and rural areas.
However, as these groups carved out several seats in the Executive Committee renewal process, their continued concern was that the public relations process was inadequate.
The spending plan presented by the Executive Committee this June was short-lived. The Fresno City Council criticized the 40% cut in the plan’s 40% share of public transportation’s revenue and began pressuring Mike Leonardo and Tony Boren, executive directors of the Fresno County Transportation Authority and the Fresno Council of Governments, respectively, to oversee the renewal process .
After a series of intense behind-closed-door meetings between Leonardo, Boren, the Dyer administration, and the Fresno City Council Transportation Committee, a new spending plan emerged in the eleventh hour of the first major bureaucratic vote in the Fresno governing council on July 8.
With no prior public input, the revised spending plan shifted $185 million in projected revenue from Fresno County to municipal agencies across the county.
A group of around 200 community residents queued up at the meeting to ask the COG Policy Committee to delay the extension of Measure C. Many cited disregard for the challenges of a younger generation facing the effects of climate change.
That night, the Fresno Governing Council approved the plan 11-4, with most mayors on the Fresno Governing Council failing to read the amended spending plan prior to their vote.
Since then, elected officials across the county have scrambled to lend their support, despite community concerns.
The Fresno County Board of Supervisors, along with the Fresno Council of Governments, gave tentative approval of the plan on July 12 by a 4-to-1 vote.
The Fresno County Transportation Authority, which administers Measure C revenue to local transportation authorities, approved the plan 7-1 on July 20.
Gregory Weaver is a freelance journalist based in central California’s San Joaquin Valley. He can be reached at email@example.com. This story was written in collaboration with Fresnoland.