Transportation group passes first funding recommendations | NevadaAppeal.com

Transportation group passes first funding recommendations

The commission looking for ways to fund Nevada’s road-building needs made its first recommendations Tuesday.

But they’re still well short of ways to raise the estimated $280 million a year needed to cover estimated costs over the next decade. And they stumbled over motions to increase gasoline taxes and other fees to provide the balance needed to erase the shortfall.

The Blue Ribbon Task Force was created by Gov. Kenny Guinn to find ways to make up a projected $3.8 billion shortfall in transportation construction funding over the next decade.

Its biggest recommendation Tuesday was that the governor and Legislature use at least $160 million of the state’s revenue surplus to jump start highway construction projects around the state.

But as member Carole Vilardo pointed out, that’s a one-time fund source which they can’t count on in future years.

They did, however, come up with about $130 million a year in proposals.

The commission recommended dedicating 1 percent of the sales tax generated through auto sales and repairs each year to transportation needs. Nevada Department of Transportation Director Jeff Fontaine estimated that would generate about $73 million a year.

In addition, the group recommended changing the depreciation schedule the Department of Motor Vehicles uses to calculate vehicle registration fees. Changing that schedule to slow depreciation allowed on vehicles by 10 percent would generate just under $57 million a year.

After that, the only change the group could get a majority vote on was to take away part of the annual growth in the governmental services tax which now goes to county governments for their road projects. Lyon County’s Leroy Goodman, chairman of the Nevada Association of Counties board, and other county officials in the group opposed that move but were outvoted.

The recommendation would cap the growth of the county share of that tax – formerly known as the motor vehicle privilege tax – at 6 percent a year. Anything over that amount would go to the state instead of the counties.

When Las Vegas businessman Tim Cashman moved to raise the gas and diesel tax, raise the fee for getting or renewing a driver’s license and to index gas and diesel taxes to inflation instead of charging a flat tax per gallon, other members voted to delay any vote on those proposals.

Cashman’s proposals would have generated just about $50 million more per year for road construction.

Goodman said after the meeting he believes people in Nevada – particularly the south – would support some forms of tax increase to pay for badly needed roads.

But he admitted he too has some problems with Cashman’s suggestions. He was among those agreeing to delay those votes.

The panel decided to hold one more meeting Nov. 29 to settle on final recommendations for the governor and Legislature, which will make the final decisions.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.