Transportation In Motion: Calaveras County Council of Governments

CCOG: Transportation in Motion

By Paul Stein

Much has been reported lately about the Calaveras Council of Governments (CCOG), and you may be wondering why such an agency exists. In a nutshell, it’s all about improving the quality of transportation in Calaveras County. So fasten your seatbelt for an explanation of how CCOG works.

What it the purpose of the CCOG?

Calaveras Council of Governments was created in 1998 to act as the lead planning and administrative agency for transportation projects and funding programs in Calaveras County. The CCOG was formed with the adoption of a Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) between the City of Angels and the County of Calaveras. The JPA serves as the agency’s operational guide and was designed to improve the efficiency and coordination of planning efforts between the City, County and CCOG with regard to the Regional Transportation System.

What is the responsibility of CCOG?

Perhaps CCOG’s biggest responsibility is its designation as the Regional Transportation Planning Agency (RTPA) for Calaveras County. In order for cities and counties to receive state and federal transportation funding they must have a recognized RTPA. CCOG coordinates with local agencies and the public to design a strategic plan for transportation investment in the local communities. This plan, referred to as the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP), identifies policies and projects that integrate transportation and land use planning. CCOG seeks to promote a planning approach that maximizes the efficiency of our transportation system. However, CCOG has no authority for setting priority on road maintenance, bridge repair, or other highway improvement projects. Road maintenance is solely the responsibility of the County Public Works Department.

How are the members of the CCOG elected?

The CCOG is comprised of a seven-member board, including two county supervisors, two City of Angels council members, and three public members at large. The elected officials are appointed by their respective boards each year, and these members then appoint the three citizen members who are selected from throughout the county. Public members serve a two-year term.

How is the CCOG funded?

The CCOG administers state and federal money collected from gasoline excise tax, and a portion of sales tax. This money funds several transportation programs such as the Transportation Development Act (TDA). Transportation Development Act funds are the main source of funding for the operations of the Calaveras Transit System. TDA is comprised of two sources of funds: The Local Transportation Fund (LTF) is derived from a quarter-cent general sales tax collected statewide and returned to the counties in which funds were generated; while the State Transit Assistance (STA) is the statewide excise tax on gasoline and diesel. About $1 million a year is allocated to Calaveras County COG from these statewide taxes.

Doesn’t CCOG run the Public Transit System?

Arguably, one of the most important responsibilities of the CCOG is the administration and coordination of funding for the Calaveras Transit system – the network of buses between all points in the county with limited routes into Amador and Tuolumne counties. TDA funds allow our region to offer transportation services to individuals with no other transportation alternatives. Transit systems are inherently difficult to operate in a rural environment due to limited ridership over a vast and mostly unpopulated area. The bus system in Calaveras is heavily subsidized. The fiscal year 12/13 transit budget was $1,653,143 and did not make the 10% fare box ratio required by law. Efforts are underway to make sure the transit system meets minimum state requirements.

Has CCOG completed a State Transportation Project?

Another of CCOG’s responsibilities is the coordination of State Transportation Improvement Projects (STIP) with Caltrans. The STIP prioritizes and coordinates with Caltrans how state transportation projects are planned, aligned, and built on an interregional basis. The construction of the Angels Camp Bypass, the Sutter Creek Bypass in Amador County, and the Highway 4 passing lane near Bear Valley are the most recent examples of completed STIP projects.

The Highway 4 Wagon Trail project is the latest STIP project and plans are moving forward to coordinate the environmental studies for the potential alignment. The county is currently working with property owners along the Wagon Trail route to gain right of way and to study environmental concerns prior to selecting the exact alignment. The goal is to achieve consensus on the best possible alignment with the least amount of impact to property owners and the environment.

Congratulations, if you’ve read this far, you are to be commended. But stay tuned: CCOG will likely be in the forefront of news about transportation planning and highway construction as the Wagon Trail Project draws closer to reality. Hopefully this article will serve as a primer for greater understanding of future reports on this subject.

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Calaveras Council of Governments at a Glance:

Mission: the CCOG is the planning agency which coordinates with Caltrans, County Public Works, City of Angels and its community partners to optimize the existing and future transportation system in Calaveras County.

Annual Administrative Budget: FY 2012/13 $482,755

Overall Work Program Budget: $3.2 million

Revenue Sources: State ¼ Cent Sales Tax, Gasoline Excise Tax, Federal Transportation Tax

Executive Director: Melissa Eads

Ex Dir. Annual Salary: $96,000 salary: $117,204 Salary plus Benefits

Number of Staff: 4

Physical Address: 444 E. St. Charles Street, San Andreas, CA 95249

Mailing Address: PO Box 280 San Andreas, CA 95249

Phone: 209-754-2094

Paul Stein is a former Calaveras County supervisor who has served 11 years on the Calaveras Council of Governments Board. Contact him at pstein@volcano.net

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