Voters have approved a pair of sales tax measures officials say would help fund road and storm drain maintenance and repair in Orinda and Moraga.
Seventy percent of Moraga voters supported Measure K, and 69 percent of Orinda voters backed Measure L.
Yet to be counted were an undetermined number of mail-in ballots.
Orinda city leaders touted Measure L as the first step in fixing the city's 92.5 miles of public roads, including 64 miles of residential roads that have been rated "poor" by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. The measure asked voters to greenlight a half-cent sales tax hike that would raise the city's sales tax rate from 8.25 to 8.75 percent. Officials predicted the measure would generate $540,000 its first year and max out at $709,000 before sunsetting in fiscal year 2022.
Opponents -- including council candidate Linda Delehunt -- argued the tax would not generate anywhere near the $2.5 million needed annually to maintain Orinda's roads at the current average pavement condition.
Incumbents Steven Glazer and Victoria Smith said the general tax would be used to repair roads. They hope to build voter confidence needed to pass other portions of the city's 10-Year Roads and Drains Repair and Maintenance Plan. Its next phases call for future bond measures or property taxes of nearly $20 million each in 2016 and 2020, and an extension of the sales tax in 2024. The city estimated the plan would raise $58.4 million when combined with other projected revenue sources.
City Manager Janet Keeter said Wednesday Measure L's passage means Orinda can put about a half-million dollars toward the normal annual paving program in the 2013-14 fiscal year.
In Moraga, officials had hoped voters would embrace Measure K, which asked them to approve a one-cent sales tax increase for 20 years. The measure will increase the town's sales tax rate from 8.25 to 9.25 percent, making it one of the highest in the East Bay. The proceeds will be placed in the general fund, and town leaders will issue bonds to fund immediate road rehabilitation and repair.
The town has a $25 million backlog of street and road repairs and spends about $500,000 annually on maintenance.