Carson City voters say ‘no’ to gas tax

Carson City’s only local ballot question failed.

The ballot measure to allow the Board of Supervisors to raise the tax on gasoline sold in Carson City failed by a vote of 16,163 to 8,351, or 66 percent to 34 percent.

If it had passed, the measure would have authorized the board to raise the fuel tax by up to 3 cents per gallon annually from 2017 through 2026.

The resulting revenue was to be used exclusively for improvements to roads, streets and highways located in Carson City.

“The failure of the ballot measure to pass means there won’t be additional revenue for repair of the roads in Carson City,” said Patrick Pittenger, Carson City transportation manager. “Currently there are no other funding opportunities locally.”

Pittenger said the issue is on the agenda for the Regional Transportation Commission meeting today and on the Board of Supervisors meeting agenda Nov. 17 and he plans to talk to the Transportation Resource Advisory Forum for Carson City, or TRAFCC, a panel of citizens who meet to give input how what they think should by road priorities.

At a recent political forum hosted by Sierra Nevada Forums, the gas indexing tax was debated.

Mark Turner, a real estate developer and builder who’s currently president of the Nevada Builders Association, advocated for the proposal while Paul McGrath argued against it.

“I know how much it costs to build roads and the funds available today aren’t remotely adequate to take care of the roads,” said Turner.

McGrath, who’s on TRAFCC, disagreed.

“I believe Public Works needs to go back to the drawing board and use the existing tax,” he said.

Pittenger explained at the debate the condition of Carson City roads are an average 62 on a scale of 100 and it would cost $25 million to bring the streets rated 40 up to an acceptable condition.

All Nevada counties except Clark and Washoe counties were required by law to have a gas tax indexing question on the ballot in the 2016 election.

The tax had to be calculated by using a formula based on construction inflation, and couldn’t exceed 7.8 percent.

But counties had the authority to use a formula applying less than that, and the Carson City board decided to cap increases at no more than 3 cents per gallon annually.

The Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles estimated Carson City’s measure would raise $40 million during its 10-year timeframe.

Proponents for the measure argued 32 percent of the city’s 274 miles of road are in poor condition and the tax would be increased only to keep pace with the rate of inflation.

Arguments against the increases said voters would have no say in the increases and the 10-year tax wasn’t the needed long-term solution to the city’s road maintenance problems.

Road maintenance is a nagging problem in Carson City as it’s across the country.

“We still have a structural problem in terms of the amount of revenue and the requirement to maintain streets,” said Nick Marano, Carson City manager. “We’re going to have to come up with another financing strategy to ensure the long-term viability of our streets.”

The gas tax also failed in Lyon and Douglas counties on Tuesday.


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