Formal Agreement Between SACOG and Sacramento Transportation Authority Clarifies Process to Ensure Proposed Transportation Tax Initiative is Compatible With Region’s Long Range Transportation Plan
The Committee for a Better Sacramento has authored a citizens’ ballot initiative, “Sacramento County Transportation Maintenance, Safety, and Congestion Relief Act of 2022” (Initiative), which has qualified for the November 2022 general election in Sacramento County. If passed by voters, the sales tax money would go to the Sacramento Transportation Authority (STA), who would administer the funds for construction and improvements to transportation infrastructure in Sacramento County.
In light of the pending Initiative, the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) has entered a formal memorandum of understanding (MOU) with STA. SACOG is a regional public agency that represents six counties – El Dorado, Placer, Sutter, Yolo and Yuba, in addition to Sacramento. Among other duties, SACOG is responsible for long-range transportation planning for the entire six-county region. In accordance with federal and state laws, SACOG develops transportation plans that are intended to meet or exceed greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals for the region. Such long-term planning is critical because, among other reasons, failing to plan for GHG reduction goals could make the region ineligible for certain federal and state funding that is needed for transportation and transit improvements. SACOG is responsible for showing federal and state regulators that the region is in compliance. As currently planned, the region is on course to meet its GHG reduction goals.
If approved, the Initiative will fund projects that are not within SACOG’s current regional plan and that could increase GHG emissions. However, the Initiative’s expenditure plan requires projects to mitigate their GHG impacts in order to maintain the region’s progress toward GHG reduction goals and to maintain ongoing compliance with federal and state clean air requirements. The Initiative itself does not contain specific procedures to implement this requirement. SACOG and STA therefore have executed an MOU to further define how this requirement would be implemented. The MOU defines SACOG’s role in completing a separate study, in addition to an independent third-party review, to analyze GHG impacts and recommend mitigation strategies for these projects to maintain compliance with GHG reduction goals. STA and project sponsors will follow SACOG’s mitigation recommendations and will meet and confer with SACOG over any significant deviations from the independent review. To be eligible for funding, these projects will need to demonstrate they can mitigate to maintain adherence to the regional GHG reduction target and that there is no net increase to regional GHG emissions. The goal of the MOU is to ensure that STA’s administration of the Citizens’ Initiative aligns with SACOG’s plan for reduction of GHG emissions and thus will not jeopardize the six-county region’s ability to meet its GHG emissions reduction goal.
The Initiative was prepared, circulated and placed on the ballot by the Committee for a Better Sacramento, who has also signed the MOU to acknowledge and affirm that the MOU is consistent with the Initiative. The Committee for a Better Sacramento has therefore confirmed that to be eligible for funding from the Initiative, projects will need to mitigate their GHG emissions in order to maintain the region’s carbon reduction goals.
SACOG has taken no action to either support or oppose the Initiative. The execution and signing of the MOU does not reflect any position by SACOG on the initiative; it only clarifies SACOG’s role in implementing GHG mitigation measures if the initiative is approved by voters.