Months of Fresno County Measure C ballot debate ends. How many votes will it need to pass?

·3 min read
Fresno County Transportation Authority

This story was produced by Fresnoland, a nonprofit news organization that partners with The Fresno Bee.

In a special meeting on Friday afternoon that lasted less than five minutes, the Fresno County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to put Measure C, the county’s transportation sales tax, on the ballot this fall.

In order for the 30-year, nearly $7 billion spending plan to become law, Fresno County voters will have to support the plan with at least 66% support.

Friday’s vote was the last bureaucratic hurdle for Measure C to qualify for the 2022 ballot and follows months of controversy, including a series of last-minute changes to the consequential spending plan by the Dyer administration.

The Fresno City Council voted 5-1 Thursday to approve the plan despite a letter from California Attorney General Rob Bonta asking the council to hold off their approval until at least 2024. A renewal vote isn’t due until 2027.

Final approval to go on ballot ends three-year renewal process

After a year-long delay due to the pandemic, a group of transportation agency staff, agribusiness, labor reps, mayors and community organizations met monthly to craft a new spending plan for Measure C.

Since the start of the committee negotiations in April 2021, a coalition of community groups wanted the Measure C renewal process to elevate local priorities around road repairs, walkable neighborhoods, and timely public transit in urban and rural areas.

But as these groups carved out multiple seats in the executive committee’s renewal process, their persistent concern was that the community outreach process was inadequate.

The spending plan that came out of the executive committee this June was short-lived. The Fresno City Council criticized the plan’s 40% cut to public transit’s share of revenues and began to exert pressure on Mike Leonardo and Tony Boren, the executive directors of the Fresno County Transportation Authority and the Fresno Council of Governments, respectively, the agencies overseeing the renewal process.

After a series of intense closed-door meetings between Leonardo, Boren, the Dyer administration and the Fresno City Council’s transportation committee, a new spending plan emerged at the 11th-hour of the first major bureaucratic vote at the Fresno Council of Governments on July 8.

Without prior public input, the revised spending plan shuffled $185 million of projected revenues from Fresno County to city agencies across the county.

A group of around 200 community residents stood in line at the meeting to ask the COG policy board to delay the Measure C renewal; many cited the plan’s disregard of the challenges of a younger generation facing the impacts of climate change.

That night, the Fresno Council of Governments approved the plan 11-4, with most of the mayors at the Fresno Council of Governments having not read the modified spending plan prior to their vote.

Since then, elected officials across the county have been eager to lend their support despite community concerns.

Along with the Fresno Council of Governments, the Fresno County Board of Supervisors gave their preliminary approval of the plan on July 12 in a 4-1 vote.

The Fresno County Transportation Authority, which administers Measure C’s revenues to local transportation agencies, approved the plan 7-1 on July 20.

Gregory Weaver is a freelance journalist based in California’s central San Joaquin Valley. He can be reached at gweav37@gmail.com. This story was written in partnership with Fresnoland.