Election: Vote yes on road tax questions | RecordCourier.com

Election: Vote yes on road tax questions

by Bill Hamilton, Transportation 20/20

Douglas County voters can opt for progress and equity, or opt to not resolve transportation problems and economic advantage enjoyed by a relative few.

The “pro” side for county questions 1-2-3 urges you to support the first alternative.

At an Oct. 10 debate at the CVIC in Minden, opponents to 1-2-3 agreed that Douglas County has daily road congestion and safety problems. They worsen during highway closures from accidents, repaving, parades and a flood, as examples. As traffic volume grows because of longer commutes, job generation and more residents, more problems and gridlock are certain unless pre-emptive action is taken.

Proponents of 1-2-3 wrote the initiatives to be as fair and equitable as possible. If the measures pass, new business construction and non-residents will contribute more for our transportation system, mitigating what otherwise might fall on county homeowners and residents.

Question 3 requests a quarter of one percent sales tax on taxable items, for roads. More tourists and shoppers from outside Douglas County travel our roads and spend money here, where our sales tax is below Carson City and Reno. We believe non-residents should help pay for the implementation of our county’s transportation plan.

Question 2 remedies the inequity of non-residential construction not paying an impact fee for road projects. New residential homes do. Why shouldn’t new commercial buildings? Some “con” critics argue that impact fees should pay for transportation improvements, yet oppose the 50 cent per square foot charge in Question 2. Their logic is inconsistent.

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Question 1 seeks reinstatement of the 5 cent per gallon tax on motor vehicle fuel for exclusive use on roads and transportation. Approval should reverse an “injustice” to consumers and our county the past 8 years. How so?

In 1993-1994, Douglas collected this legislatively approved tax. Gardnerville-Minden stations charged from the same price to 3 cents more for comparable grades and brands in Carson City. Douglas voters narrowly voided the tax in September 1994. By 1997, Washoe and Lyon counties and Carson City imposed the 5 cent per gallon fuel tax. Since then, Minden-Gardnerville prices typically have been the same to 2 cents below Carson City.

Who has benefited from what should be a 5 cent per gallon advantage for Douglas County stations? Not Douglas County consumers nor our transportation system. Yes on No. 1 will generate funds we need for safer roads and improvements, and non-residents will share in the cost.

Some will argue that county fuel prices will increase or sales will shift elsewhere. Not necessarily, if profiteering is reduced. Evidence also dismisses the “leakage” argument. When Douglas County collected 3 cents more in fuel tax than Carson City, our share of combined two-county total gallons sold actually increased. When Carson City imposed the 5 cent tax, its share of the two-county sales increased 3 consecutive years, as reported by fuel dealers to the State of Nevada.

“Yes” is equitable, fair, and vital to fund the transportation element of the Douglas County Master Plan. “Yes” will help provide an effective transportation network central to our safety, driving sanity, and a healthy county economy.