Submitted by: Rob Poythress District 3 Madera County Board of Supervisors
Letter To The Editor – YES on Measure T: Just the FACTS: The truth about renewing Measure T for local roads and transportation
Recently I’ve heard a disturbing amount of misinformation circulating about Measure T, the proposal to extend the locally controlled funding for roads and transportation that benefits all communities in Madera County. As a lifelong Madera County resident, elected County Supervisor, hardware store owner, and farmer, I pride myself on being a straight-shooter. As a lifelong Republican, I carefully scrutinize any tax proposal before voting on it. I enthusiastically support the renewal of Measure T and think local voters deserve to know the following facts.
FACT: Measure T does not increase our taxes by one penny.
Since 1990, communities throughout Madera County have benefited from the locally controlled funding from a ½¢ sales collected here in Madera County and dedicated only for road and transportation improvements in Madera County. Voting YES on T this November simply extends the current sales tax rate and does NOT increase our taxes. Visitors who shop in our communities will pay their fair share for using our roads. Essential purchases like groceries and prescription medicine are exempt from sales tax so the cost isn’t a burden for local residents on fixed or limited incomes.
FACT: Measure T brings state and federal dollars to Madera, instead of LA and San Francisco.
If you see a pothole being filled, a road being repaved, a highway being improved or virtually any other transportation improvement in Madera County, chances are it was funded in some part by Measure T. While Measure T directly funds local road improvements, it also provides the local matching funds needed to qualify for our share of state and federal transportation funding. Thanks to our local transportation sales tax, Madera County has received $226 million in state and federal funds that would otherwise have gone to other communities like Los Angeles and San Francisco. Voting YES to renew Measure T will bring another $600 million in state and federal transportation funds to Madera County over the next 30 years instead of going to other communities. Wouldn’t it be a shame to see our state and federal tax dollars go to improve roads in other communities?
FACT: Measure T has a 30-year proven track record of success.
When Madera County voters last renewed our local transportation funding in 2006, voters also approved an expenditure plan to guide the use of funds. An independent citizens’ oversight committee has reviewed the use of Measure T funds and consistently reported that funds are spent according to the voter-approved expenditure plan. While some minor adjustments and prioritization naturally occurs to meet the changing transportation needs of our growing county and to stay within our budget, the goals of the voter-approved expenditure plan have been carefully followed. We don’t have to wonder if Measure T will be spent properly. We can look at the 30-year track record of responsible implementation. Plus, voting YES on T keeps strict fiscal accountability and transparency protections in place, including an independent citizens’ oversight committee comprised of Madera County residents, mandatory annual audits, and public disclosure of all spending.
FACT: Measure T is essential for maintaining our safety, especially from fires.
That transportation improvements funded by Measure T were developed in collaboration with the Madera County Office of Emergency Services, CalFire and local fire departments. These projects will help ensure safe and quick evacuation routes for residents in a fire or other emergency. These improvements also help ensure that firefighters, paramedics, and law enforcement can respond quickly to 9-1-1 emergencies. Measure T will help implement the specific wildfire prevention measures along roadways that are called for in our Community Wildfire Prevention Plan.
FACT: Measure T was developed by Madera County residents, for Madera County residents.
I’ve heard some say that the development of Measure T was rushed and without input from Madera County residents. That’s just NOT true. I would know because I co-chaired, along with Madera County Assessor-elect Brett Frazier, the citizens Steering Committee that volunteered our time for over a year to develop Measure T. While representatives from the City of Madera, City of Chowchilla and Madera County were part of the Steering Committee, so were many local citizens, local business people and others. This wasn’t just a committee of government bureaucrats. The Steering Committee was specifically designed to encourage citizen input. All the meetings were open to the public and advertised. Plus, an extensive public outreach program was implemented to invite public input. Every single Madera County resident was mailed a community survey asking you to share local transportation priorities. The same survey was available online and promoted on social media. Two statistically representative telephone surveys of Madera County residents were conducted. Dozens of community meetings were held to collect citizen input. While not 100% of Madera County residents chose to participate, many did, and it’s not fair to say citizens didn’t have chance for input.
FACT: Measure T puts local voters in control of how long the funding lasts.
Some say Measure T should have a fixed end date but that would just be government bureaucrats controlling how long it lasts. Instead, Measure T lasts “until ended by voters,” which puts you in control. If in a few years the community has concerns, you can repeal it. If Measure T goes well like it has for the past 30 years, voters can allow for it to continue. There is a mandatory public process every 15 years to reevaluate priorities. There is also a commitment to conduct a public hearing every 20 years to determine if the conditions for termination exist. If there is public support for termination, the Board of Supervisors will repeal it through the appropriate process. To say that Measure T is a “forever tax” that can’t be repealed simply isn’t true. By law, no tax measure is permanent, and many tax repeal measures have qualified for the ballot throughout California.
FACT: Now is the right time for Measure T.
Sacramento and Washington DC are constantly placing new restrictions on how we can use our transportation funding. Most of these restrictions require more and more funds to be spent on public transportation and other programs that may be right for LA and the Bay Area, but aren’t the top priority for Madera. Waiting just means that we lose local control of our transportation dollars as more and more restrictions are placed on how these funds can be spent. Plus, waiting jeopardizes the $600 million in state and federal matching funds that renewing Measure T now will help us secure for Madera County. Please don’t vote to surrender control to Sacramento and Washington DC. Vote YES on Measure T.
I have done my homework on Measure T and I’m voting YES. I hope you’ll do the same and join me in supporting Measure T to improve our roads WITHOUT increasing taxes. https://www.yesontmadera.org/
Rob Poythress represents District 3 on the Madera County Board of Supervisors. He is a lifelong Madera County resident, Teco Hardware store owner, and owner of Poythress Farms. In 2021-2022, Supervisor Poythress co-chaired the Steering Committee that developed Measure T with citizen input. He can be reached at (559) 675-7700 or firstname.lastname@example.org.