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Motor vehicle fuel tax to be on November ballot

Come Nov. 8, Nye County voters will have to decide whether they want county to impose annual tax increases on certain motor vehicle fuels.

Nye County commissioners on May 17 adopted a resolution to place the question on the Nov. 8 general election ballot.

The move is required by a state law passed in the last legislature in an attempt to fund transportation infrastructure projects.

“If it passes, then we are mandated to write an ordinance and when you write an ordinance you have to have a public hearing, so that’s kind of useless because we are mandated to pass it,” County Commissioner Dan Schinhofen said.

If the ballot question is approved, Nye County commissioners would be required to impose the tax in the same manner as it would be required to impose the county taxes.

The tax would run from Jan. 19, 2017 through Dec. 31, 2026. Another ballot question would be required at that time to see if the tax would continue.

The additional county and state taxes are required to be calculated by applying a formula factoring a certain percentage based on street and highway construction inflation and can’t exceed 7.8 percent, according to the documents.

According to a study by the Department of Motor Vehicles, the indexed motor vehicle fuel taxes could result in approximately $52 Million of additional revenue by the end of 2026. Of that amount, the portion which would be allocated and disbursed directly to Nye County for road construction, maintenance and improvement related projects in Nye County would be approximately $32 Million, while the remaining portion would be allocated to the State of Nevada for road construction, maintenance and improvement related projects specifically in Nye County.

The practice of tying the fuel tax rate to the rate of certain street and highway construction cost inflation is called fuel tax indexing.

Under Nevada law, also known as the County Fuel Tax Law, counties are authorized to impose certain taxes on motor vehicle fuel and special fuels used in motor vehicles.

Before the 2015 session of the Nevada Legislature, state law also required a statewide measure to be placed on the November 2016 ballot for voters to decide whether to authorize the state to impose additional state taxes on motor vehicle fuel and various special fuels used in motor vehicles.

Under Assembly Bill No. 191 that was enacted during that session, the requirements for the statewide ballot measure were repealed and instead, will be decided by approval of the majority of the voters in the county at the general election in November 2016.

Under new state law, county commissioners in all counties, other than Clark and Washoe, are required to impose additional county taxes on motor vehicle fuel and various special fuels used in motor vehicles, if supported by a majority of the voters at the general election in November, according to the documents.

The Nevada Revised Statutes require the county clerk or commissioners to appoint ballot question committees to write the pros and cons to any question that will appear on the election ballot.

“If we don’t get interest from the public, it is up to the clerk and district attorney to write the pros and cons,” Nye County Clerk Sandra “Sam” Merlino said.

“All I am doing at this point is advertising, giving a deadline to turn in the applications and then we are set to appoint committees on June 7. At that time, I will give the committees the parameters, deadlines, etc.,” she added.

The committees will have until June 1 to prepare and submit the arguments either advocating or opposing approval by the voters of the question to the county clerk. The county clerk will forward the arguments to the opposite committee.

The committees will prepare a rebuttal to the argument done by the other committee and submit rebuttals to the arguments to the county clerk on June 10.

The county commission approved a 5 cent per gallon gas tax increase last year.

Contact reporter Daria Sokolova at dsokolova@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @dariasokolova77

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