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Gas tax may be back to voter

by Christy Chalmers

Douglas County residents who want to know why their roads aren’t paved, graded, wide enough or sufficiently marked can give opinions and get answers during a special workshop Thursday.

The county is holding a three-hour meeting on transportation issues that will cover everything from money – and whether a 5-cent gas tax should be revisited – to road maintenance.

“It’s everything you’ve ever wanted and probably not wanted to know about roads,” said Community Development Director Bob Nunes.

Maintenance programs that use chip sealing, asphalt grindings and grading will be reviewed. Nunes said he gets calls year-round from residents who think their dirt roads should be paved, or graded more often, or who have opinions on the use of chip seals and asphalt grindings, which have been applied to some dirt roads.

Others call to request additional signs or to ask the county to accept maintenance responsibilities for their roads.

Nunes said the workshop will be an opportunity to explain the county’s road management policies, as well as finances.

“We get a lot of requests for things we just don’t have the funding to do,” said Nunes. “We get people that say ‘we want our road overlaid,’ but when you look at the needs on the road maintenance it far outstrips our resources. That’s our biggest problem right now, is maintaining what we’ve got.”

Funding will be discussed, including the possibility of reviving a nickel-per-gallon gas tax that voters repealed in 1994. The money had been earmarked for road improvements.

Nunes isn’t lobbying for the tax, but said the county has tracked local gas prices and compared them to adjacent areas like Carson City, which dedicates some of its gas tax revenue to road maintenance.

“By and large, you’re paying the extra nickel here, but it’s not going into the road fund,” said Nunes. “We’ll see if the board wants to look back at the gas tax.”

He hopes to get direction from county leaders and consensus on transportation priorities.

The workshop will be held during the county commission meeting, which starts at 1 p.m. The meeting will be held at the old courthouse, 1616 Eighth St., Minden.