County Hopes For Its Share Of New State Gas Tax
BY MARIO CONDE
The Imperial County Board of Supervisors heard a presentation about the new California gas tax that will go into effect to support state infrastructure.
The Imperial County Board met on Tuesday morning and heard a presentation from Public Works Director John Gay regarding this bill that was signed by Governor Jerry Brown and also approved by the legislature.
This bill would create the Road Maintenance and Rehabilitation Program to address deferred maintenance on the state highway system and the local street and road system. The bill would require the California Transportation Commission to adopt performance criteria, consistent with a specified asset management plan, to ensure efficient use of certain funds available for the program.
The bill would provide for the deposit of various funds for the program in the Road Maintenance and Rehabilitation Account, which the bill would create in the State Transportation Fund. This includes revenues attributable to a $0.12 per gallon increase in the motor vehicle fuel (gasoline) tax imposed by the bill, 50 percent of a $0.20 per gallon increase in the diesel excise tax, a portion of a new transportation improvement fee imposed under the Vehicle License Fee Law with a varying fee between $25 and $175 based on vehicle value, and a new $100 annual vehicle registration fee applicable only to zero-emission vehicles model year 2020 and later.
The figures would later be adjusted for inflation.
The bill would provide that the fuel excise tax increases take effect on November 1, 2017, the transportation improvement fee takes effect on January 1, 2018, and the zero-emission vehicle registration fee takes effect on July 1, 2020.
Gay told the board that the county has faced a continual decrease in funds for maintenance of its roads and bridges. The primary funding source, Gay said, is the Highway User Tax Account, a tax on gasoline that has been decreasing for several years. Improved fuel efficiency, the move to mass transit, and the increasing popularity of alternative fuel vehicles has made the amount of fuel purchased dwindle. From an annual allocation of slightly over ten million dollars a few short years ago, the County is now projected to receive approximately six million dollars in the current fiscal year.
“Imperial County is not alone in this matter as all the state counties have been impacted by decreasing funds for road maintenance.” Gay told the board. “Some, like Imperial County, have implemented local tax increases to help with their road maintenance needs, but even this is not enough to address all infrastructure needs.”
Gay stated that there is an additional $3.1 million expected for Imperial County during 2017-18 and at full implementation the County of Imperial Public Works can conservatively expect over $10 million dollars per year.
“Better forecast trends will occur over the next two years of implementation,” Gay stated. “We hope that the projects stay as it was presented.”