Will wheel tax dollars continue pouring into Antelope Valley?
That’s my question, upon hearing that Mayor Chris Beutler is proposing to increase the wheel tax by $20 for cars (more for trucks) over the next three years.
One thing I learned while I was following the money being spent on the Antelope Valley Project a few years ago is that the city began diverting lots of wheel tax revenue to the project.
As of 2008, more than $12 million in wheel tax dollars had been funneled into the project — which irritated those who could see infrastructure elsewhere being neglected.
New roads were built in Antelope Valley, but other roads that were promised were not. When the wheel tax was bumped up $15 in 1995, city officials said they would widen Old Cheney Road from 70th to 84th streets, 56th Street from Old Cheney Road to Pine Lake Road and Pine Lake from 56th to Nebraska 2.
That never happened.
And before the Antelope Valley Project began, the city engineer promised it wouldn’t raid money from other street projects. Of course, it did.
And the city’s infrastructure shortfall grew — in 2008 city officials themselves said they had a $56 million shortfall of street work waiting to be done within the city limits. From 2004 to 2008, only one stretch of arterial street was resurfaced. Of course, now we’re finally seeing road work around town, in large part thanks to Obama’s stimulus dollars for shovel-ready projects.
So I guess if I were on the City Council and considering whether to grant Beutler this wheel tax increase, the question I’d ask is: Will any of the money go to Antelope Valley? Should it?