The motor fuel tax in Nye County hasn’t changed in 30 years, so to catch up with the increased cost of road maintenance, a tax hike is recommended.
After a presentation delivered at the Nye County Commissioners’ meeting Tuesday outlining the benefits of a fuel tax hike, the board voted 5-0 to draft an ordinance to increase the fuel tax by at least three cents and as much as five cents to be heard at a later meeting.
There was some disagreement with how much the tax should be raised, as the original plan Jon Koenig stated, a three-cent increase would suffice, but he explained a higher one would be ideal.
“I took three cents because it’s in between one cent and five cents, that gave the board of county commissioners leeway to go higher or lower,” Koenig said. “I believe it probably should go to five, but I would be happy at three cents.”
Department of Public Works Director Dave Fanning explained that higher costs and no change in the tax rate have created a dual issue for roads.
“The revenue hasn’t been increased but the price of services have increased 126 percent since 1985 when the motor fuel tax was last raised,” Fanning said.
Employing Consumer Price Index Escalation data from the past three decades, it was determined that the current dollar equivalent for the tax is nine cents per gallon.
The Regional Transportation Committee recommended the county raise this tax to seven cents per gallon, to help regain some of the purchasing power lost over the last 30 years.
Fanning explained that the money would go toward a large amount of roads throughout Nye County.
“The road fund supports 27,668 miles of paved, 433.46 of chipped, 379.29 of grade/drain and gravel roads,” Fanning said.
The tax increase will also provide much-needed revenue for the county road maintenance public works.
The last time the motor fuel tax was raised was in 1985, where it was increased to four cents per gallon, which remains as among the lowest in the state.
As an example, Dave Fanning stated at the May 12 commission meeting that he filled up his personal vehicle a week prior to the meeting at $2.75 a gallon for 25 gallons, which totaled $68.75. A three-cent increase would equal out to an extra $2.06, while imposing a five cents per gallon tax would come out $3.43 more.
Fanning elaborated and explained how the lack of money is affecting much-needed work.
“Projects that have been identified have been put on hold based on available funding,” Fanning said. “We are finding this to be true and truer every year that we go through a budget crisis.”
Also, the presentation went on to say that the lack of funding would also result in reduced storm and disaster response including: snow and ice, downed trees, flooding, public utility, less maintenance work and reduced preventative maintenance that will lead to more expensive fixes in the future.
With its current budget the RTC is focusing resources on public safety and necessary maintenance, while managing their work more efficiently.
Maintenance and construction are important to keep up with population growth. Every dollar not spent on road maintenance will require at least $4 spent to repair roads.
Public works wanted to make it clear to citizens that fuel tax dollars must be spent on roads, which is authorized by Nevada Revised Statute 373.
All net proceeds are deposited in the county treasurer’s fund and disbursed in accordance with the provisions of NRS 373 construction and/or repair of public roads.
The report stated that the Nye County Road Department continues to do more with less and that a three-cent or five-cent increase in the gas tax would help rebuild and maintain a deteriorating county road system for the next generation of users.
“The community continues to grow and not just Pahrump,” Fanning said. “Tourism is increasing, which brings more cars to the gas pumps. When we see that, we like that and we get more into that revenue stream.”