San Diego

SANDAG's Measure A Projections Prompt Calls for Transparency

Measure A was a half-cent sales tax hike to bankroll transportation, infrastructure and environmental projects

The embattled San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) has just received a sharp critique, as legislation to overhaul its operations keeps moving in Sacramento.

A leading taxpayer advocacy group gave SANDAG six recommendations aimed at enabling the agency’s directors to present “clear and digestible information” that would improve “the quality and efficacy of future debate on public issues”.

The back story here is SANDAG’s Measure A on last November's countywide ballot, which got majority approval but not the two-thirds required for passage.

While staffers learned key numbers given to voters and SANDAG directors could be wrong, they didn't tell them.

As a result the agency, whose board members are elected officials from the county and its 18 cities, has hired an outside law firm to investigate how that came about.

Measure A was a half-cent sales tax hike to bankroll transportation, infrastructure and environmental projects.

SANDAG had forecast revenues of $18 billion over 40 years.

Reporting by NBC 7 media partner Voice of San Diego and internal checks revealed what staffers called a "human error" in data input.

After the election, the projection was corrected to $14 billion.

Questions arose about whether Measure A was intentionally oversold, but so far, no evidence has materialized.

On Tuesday, the San Diego County Taxpayers Assn. (SDCTA) issued a report recommending "increased communications, so if errors do surface they would be recognized earlier in the process and corrected, preventing them from becoming larger issues down the road".

Said SDCTA’s president, Haney Hong, in a news release: “It’s disappointing that some of our elected leaders do not engage in the back-and-forth dialogue between the constituencies they represent and SANDAG’s board.”

Meantime, a bill to revise SANDAG's governing structure has just passed the Assembly's Transportation Committee.

SANDAG directors voted to oppose AB 805 unless it's amended, some saying it's unfair to the agency's smaller cities.

In response to the Taxpayers Association report, SANDAG issued a statement saying it will review the group's recommendations, and ".. is committed to transparency, accountability, and good governance.”

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