Gas indexing question required to appear on November ballot
The nickel gas tax goes into effect in Douglas County on Feb. 1.
Voters will have an opportunity to decide if they want to up the ante on that in the November election when gas indexing appears on the ballot.
The Nevada Legislature is requiring counties to place the question on the ballot.
In a presentation to Douglas County commissioners on Thursday, consultant Buzz Harris said that if approved, the indexed gas tax would go into effect in January 2017.
“This is completely separate from the nickel gas tax,” he said. “It allows the counties to address a multitude of issues. It can only be used for road and highway projects and maintenance. It can’t be used for other things.”
The gas tax is indexed because it is charged based on the producer price index, which Harris said is a closer indicator of inflation and the cost of goods sold than the consumer price index.
If approved, the tax would go up a percentage per gallon each year. He estimated around 3.3 percent, but that number could vary depending on the index.
As part of the ballot initiative, committees will be set up to write pro and con arguments.
Clerk Treasurer Kathy Lewis said pro and con arguments need to be done by July 18. Commissioners will discuss forming the committees at their March meeting.
County Manager Jim Nichols said Douglas is working with three other counties on the ballot language.
“Buzz went through in a few minutes what is a complex and difficult concept to master,” he said.
Commissioner Greg Lynn pointed out the ballot measure authorized county commissioners to approve the tax.
Commissioner Barry Penzel said Clark County, which has indexing, rarely sees much of a decrease in gas prices.
“Once you leave Douglas County, $2 is a long way behind you,” he said. “We have a responsibility to the voter to make sure voters are fully informed about what it does. We need to make it crystal clear so the voter can make an intelligent decision.”