Churchill County residents who drive the county lanes and the city of Fallon streets may have noticed the increased deterioration of our roadways.
Because of reduced funding over the past decade, needed work has either not been done or a temporary patchwork has been completed until more money becomes available. More than 190 miles of paved roads and 250 miles of unpaved roads crisscross our county. Unless a bridge or culvert crosses a state designated highway like the new bridge crossing Harrigan Road near Wildes, the county is responsible for maintaining that infrastructure to which we take for granted.
Before the Great Recession, funding for the road department peaked at $2.4 million 10 years ago. We would expect funding to keep up with inflation and needs, but in actuality, it hasn’t. Two years ago, revenue dipped below $2 million, but for fiscal year 2016, funding increased slightly to $2,086,506 million.
The county is doing more with less funding but with each passing year, the road department is having difficulty in keeping up with the maintenance. The majority of people who drive the county roads and city streets are residents, and they are the ones who feel the effect more than visitors to the area.
Churchill County has not raised a fuel tax since the 1990s, yet the price of fuel and petroleum based products have increased during the past 23 years. Cars are more fuel efficient, thus resulting in less gas tax that goes to the repairs.
This year’s ballot question for Churchill County states in part that “the Churchill County Board of Commissioners shall enact an ordinance to impose from Jan. 1, 2017, to Dec. 31, 2026, an annual increase to tax on motor vehicle fuel and certain special fuels based on the rate of construction inflation in the amount not to exceed three years each year for every gallon of fuel sold in Churchill County, for the sole purpose of funding construction, repairs and maintenance of roads and highways in Churchill County.”
For example, if an individual bought 500 gallons of fuel a year, then the additional tax would amount to only $15 a year, which would be less than taking a family of four to lunch at McDonald’s.
A yes vote from residents would permit the county to index the existing tax rates on motor vehicle fuels beginning Jan. 1 and the money will be used solely in Churchill County to include the city. Indexing is tying in the motor fuel taxes to the rate of inflation.
The county road department and city have both done the best they can with less revenue, but the inferior roads and streets keeps increasing every year.
We strongly encourage residents to vote for Local Question 1 because without the additional revenue, roads and bridges will only get worse. If voters need more information, they can go to www.FixNVroads. Org.
LVN editorials appear on Wednesdays.