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Fresno Mayor Lee Brand pulls gas tax spending plan due to ‘partisan disagreement’

Fresno city council representatives hold opposing press conferences over gas tax

Monday's south Fresno city council staff press conference followed by opposing north Fresno council Tuesday morning over the gas tax.
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Monday's south Fresno city council staff press conference followed by opposing north Fresno council Tuesday morning over the gas tax.

Fresno Mayor Lee Brand on Tuesday pulled his proposed plan to spend state gas tax money after a public City Council squabble.

Brand said in a news release that he plans to meet with council members as soon as possible to debate a plan that keeps all Fresnans safe.

“Any plan that bypasses half of this city is unacceptable,” he said.

Brand said he’s concerned that the credibility of the process used to develop the plan was cast in a negative light.

“We cannot allow this funding to be held hostage because of partisan disagreement and run the risk that significantly altering our plan might jeopardize Fresno’s share of (Senate Bill 1) funding,” he said. “The sooner we have a healthy, reasonable discussion, the better.”

On Monday and Tuesday, City Council members held dueling press conferences over the mayor’s proposed plan.

Fresno council members of the south and west areas of Fresno hold a press conference to announce their opposition to the Mayor Lee Brand's proposal to split gas tax initiative money equally among the city's districts.

A majority of council members — Esmeralda Soria, Miguel Arias, Luis Chavez and Nelson Esparza — opposed the plan, saying they wanted a larger share of the money to go to south Fresno and sidewalks near schools.

Garry Bredefeld and Steve Brandau on Tuesday accused the council majority of waging “class warfare,” saying north Fresno also needs money for road repairs.

Brand’s spending plan for the $12.1 million split the money between seven districts so each district received between $1-2 million. The most expensive paving project was Nees Avenue in northeast Fresno’s District 6, but Districts 5, 1 and 3 were slated to receive the most money.

Signed into law by then-Gov. Jerry Brown in 2017, SB 1 is geared toward using billions of dollars in higher fuel taxes and vehicle fees to help cover the state’s transportation needs for the next decade.

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Brianna Calix covers Fresno’s city government for The Bee, where she works to hold public officials accountable, analyze city policy and inform readers how city hall decisions might affect their lives. She previously worked for The Bee’s sister paper, the Merced Sun-Star.

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