The Measure B tax passed with about 71.2 percent approval from voters, but soon after the election the sales tax was challenged in court. In his lawsuit, Mountain View attorney Gary Wesley alleged the measure was a "bait-and-switch" that promised voters it would adhere to a broad spending plan, but actually allowed the money to be shifted however VTA desired. As written, the measure needed to be rescinded because it fell short of state election code requirements, Wesley said.
In October, a state appellate court dismissed Wesley's suit, and he unsuccessfully tried to take the case one step higher to the state Supreme Court. With that appeal now rejected, Wesley is unable to press his case any further, and VTA is free to start spending the money.
VTA officials say their initial focus will be to distribute about $80 million to cities for a variety of local street and roads improvements. The tax revenues will be extremely important in the coming years for Mountain View and Palo Alto, as both cities expect to use it to help finance a series of expensive grade separation projects along the Caltrain corridor. The tax measure is also expected to immediately fund a series of pilot projects to reduce noise along Highway 85.
The Measure B sales tax puts a half-cent surcharge on most purchases in Santa Clara County. Over its 30-year lifespan, the tax is expected to raise about $6.5 billion. More information on the Measure B spending plan can be found on the VTA website, www.vta.org/measure-b-2016.
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