Nobody asked me
I was one of the four people who applied to serve on the gas tax committee. I have read with interest the article on the commissioners’ meeting and your editorial in which both you and the commissioners stated that all four applicants were opposed to a gas tax (R-C Jan. 15).
I am not sure where you got your information, except from the commissioners’ meeting, but I know you did not ask this applicant. But then, maybe you were just repeating the statements made at the meeting.
As for the commissioners’ meeting, I know I did not speak to anyone, staff or commissioners, as to my feelings on the gas tax. Therefore, they chose not to appoint anyone! Does that mean that there can be no committees without a guarantee that the appointees will agree with the commissioners and staff? If so, then why bother, except to have a committee to take the heat!
Had they asked this applicant, they might have learned a different opinion.
Since they did not ask, I will tell you. Eight or 10 years ago, the commissioners decided they needed more money in the general fund and transferred the small property tax for road maintenance to the general fund. (It is easier to move general fund money rather than dedicated funds.) Now, today, they need money to maintain roads. I personally am not opposed to a dedicated fund that can only be used for one purpose.
If the county would revisit history, they would also see that a master plan for roads was approved around’86-’87, which showed a much-needed north-south loop road to elevate traffic congestion on Highway 395 through town. This road was close in so it would be used and would not take away from businesses, but would help them. There was also an east-west road planned, so there was a direct route from Kingsbury to Highway 395. Extensive study had been done including talking to the businesses before these two roads were made a priority. And how were we going to pay for these roads? With revenue bonds. Revenue bonds are loans with a dedicated way to repay. These revenue bonds were to be paid with a dedicated gas tax. That, in my opinion, is a proper use of a gas tax – a tax paid by visitors, those passing through Douglas County as well as locals. Today, the need for these two roads still exits. I believe this subject should be revisited. Each year we wait, the traffic increases.
Maybe the commissioners thought they knew my opinion from two years ago when they tried to pass the last gas tax. I was opposed to a gas tax that would raise Douglas County tax above Carson City. But I do believe statements were made then that it would not be appropriate to raise the gas tax in Douglas County until Carson City raised theirs. It is only good economics.
Finally, I do not believe gas tax should be used for maintenance. A gas tax is appropriate for a major road project that would benefit all residents of Douglas County. Maybe the commissioners should look into imposing a few pennies on property tax (dedicated only) for road maintenance. Or maybe their extra monies they just found. But then, again, it is an election year.
My final advice to everyone is next time, don’t assume, ask.