OAKLAND -- Alameda County voters will decide in November whether to double their transportation sales tax from a half to 1 cent, county supervisors decided Tuesday.
The tax would become permanent if it wins approval from two-thirds of voters.
Supervisors voted 4-0 to put the tax on the ballot.
The measure would raise $7.8 billion over its first 30 years to fix potholes in city and county roads, make street improvements, restore public transit service cuts and expand hiking and riding trails.
Among the allocations would be $400 million for a BART extension to Livermore. All public transit systems in the county would get money for operations, with AC Transit getting the largest share -- nearly $1.5 billion.
The Alameda County Transportation Commission crafted the plan for the tax over two years. Officials at the agency said the higher tax is essential to provide a reliable stream of money for transportation after years of reductions in state and federal assistance.
The measure would double and indefinitely extend an Alameda County half-cent transportation sales tax, Measure B, that is scheduled to expire in 2022.
The full sales tax rate in most Alameda County cities is 8.75 cents per dollar of taxable goods.
Forty-eight percent of the money from the 1 cent tax would be for public transit, 30 percent for local streets and roads and 9 percent for freeway projects to unsnarl traffic.
Some skeptics have said making the tax permanent gives the public little say over the big spending plan.
In response, Alameda County Transportation Commission officials said county residents would get to vote before 2042 on a new list of tax-funded projects. After that, ballot measures on the projects would be held every 20 years.
Officials said voters could overturn the tax if it were put back on the ballot by a citizen petition drive.
The tax was supported by all city councils in Alameda County.
Contact Denis Cuff at 925-943-8267. Follow him at Twitter.com/deniscuff