Gas tax will help keep highway on track
Carson City supervisors did the right thing in extending a nickel gas tax to help ensure completion of a freeway through town, a vital part of the city’s future, although we would have preferred another sunset date had been set.
The tax was approved in 1997 and was a crucial bargaining chip with state officials to get the first phase of the freeway project – the northern half – onto the construction schedule.
We could grouse all we want about the state’s responsibility to fund this highway, needed a decade ago, but the reality is that it helped for Carson City residents to step up with a few million in locally generated revenue.
In the long run, it’s a bargain. The storm drainage work being done near Highway 50 East alone is worth the investment being made a nickel a gallon at the gas pumps. As for the bypass itself, it will spur economic development in several parts of town, including downtown as the crush of traffic congestion is relieved.
Extending the tax to push along the southern half of the highway is equally important. The sooner that section gets designed and built, the sooner we’ll have a bypass that actually goes somewhere.
Don’t forget the nickel gas tax’s other important purpose: funding improvements to other streets, such as Fairview, Curry and Stewart. Carson City may always have more street-funding projects than it can afford, but it is falling behind on improvements to these major arteries.
Those needs were behind the basic logic of the supervisors in not setting another date for the tax to expire. Carson’s streets will always need that revenue stream, the reasoning went, so why handicap a future board of supervisors?
But we’re more comfortable with any tax having a sunset date, forcing elected officials to confront the issue again. Mayor Ray Masayko, although he went along with the vote, made a similar point.
Some future supervisor may make an issue of the tax and try to repeal it, but – like construction of the freeway itself – we don’t know for sure when it will end.