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Today’s must-read: Bridge crisis averted!

Submitted by on 1, July 28, 2009 – 5:50 amOne Comment

10-300x2251The state Legislature has passed a budget sans an anticipated takeaway of more than $1 billion in locals’ gas tax funds (the Assembly balked at the last minute). Which means the county’s threats to leave three county-run drawbridges up at night have been stayed.

“I’m relieved and grateful for the Assembly’s actions,” Mayor Beverly Johnson told local scribe Jeff Mitchell, who penned this piece on the thwarted controversy for the Sacramento Bee. “The county was dead serious about the bridge situation. For now, it looks like a crisis has been averted.”

County officials had said that without the money, they’d have to leave the Park Street, High Street and Fruitvale bridges up at night, or risk huge fines from the Coast Guard (because ships, apparently, have the right of way). Their solution to the problem? More money from us.

Estimates for keeping the bridges staffed run from $1.9 million to $2.5 million a year (depending on who you ask), some of which may or may not be paid by us already. The bridges take about 85,000 vehicle trips per day, Mitchell reports.

Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant had previously dismissed the county’s threats as a “trial balloon” to seek more money from the city, and Vice Mayor Doug deHaan had said the threat had been raised in the past. But Johnson was concerned they were far more serious.

Meanwhile, the state is pressing forward with plans to take property tax money and redevelopment funds from counties and cities. That’ll cost us over $2 million in property tax money this year (though it’ll have to be repaid in three years, with interest) and some $5.4 million in redevelopment funds this year and next.

We should have a fix on how those problems will be solved when the proposed budget comes out, later this week, and the council will take a look at that budget at a special meeting at 7 p.m. Monday. Stay tuned.

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