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Council Backs County Sales Tax Increase
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Riverbank City Council has unanimously approved placing a half-cent sales tax initiative on the November ballot to repair local roads and improve Stanislaus County's transportation system.

On Monday, members voted 3-0 (with two members absent) to join six other councils, with three still left to vote, in backing the measure. But it is ultimately up to the county Board of Supervisors to place the measure on the ballot. Experts have said the board will not go ahead unless it has the support of all the councils.

Approval by the voters would raise $700 million for repairs over 20 years, directing half to the cities for local roads and half to regional projects.

The aim is for Stanislaus County to become a "self-help county," pay a half cent sales tax and thus make it easier to get state funds through contributing a local match for major and minor projects, City Manager Rich Holmer told council members. Ninety percent of the state's population lives in self-help counties.

"This will open up literally millions of dollars to us," said Mayor Chris Crifasi.

"We've got to do something. The whole county is a mess, what with potholes and so on," said Vice Mayor Sandra Benitez.

"It's important the council lead the campaign and explain to the people what it will mean to the community and our economy," added Councilmember Virginia Madueno. "We've been robbed for far too long. It's the council's responsibility to work hard and get it passed."

A similar tax measure failed in 2006 but that proposal was slated to run for 30 years and raise $1.02 billion directing only $350 million to local roads and $670 million to regional projects.