Decision 2020

Voters in Sonoma, Marin Counties Reject SMART Tax Extension

6-29-17-smart train
Alan Waples/NBC Bay Area

Voters in Sonoma and Marin counties rejected a 30-year extension of a quarter-cent sales tax for the operation of the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit's SMART train system.

Measure I needed two-thirds approval.

In Marin County, Measure I received 53.5 percent approval with all 157 precincts reporting as of early Wednesday morning. In Sonoma County, the measure got just 49.8 percent with all 526 precincts reporting.

The existing tax expires in 2029.

Opponents and supporters of Measure I spent a combined $3 million during the campaign. The Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria contributed $1 million in support of the measure and Molly Gallaher Flater, a member of a prominent Sonoma County family that develops elder care facilities, contributed an estimated $1.8 million against it.

SMART'S management and the Board of Directors said the tax extension would provide an additional $40 million a year and enable it to build the rail line to Cloverdale as planned in 2008 when voters approved the tax for a 72-mile rail and pedestrian and bicycle path project.

Proponents also said extending the tax 30 years would allow SMART to restructure its debt and save $12.2 million annually.

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