Carson voters back diesel tax, city explores road funding options

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The same week Carson City voters backed a diesel tax for local road improvements, a new report offered future funding options to fill a remaining $21 million funding gap for local roads. the city.

On Thursday, 12,448 people voted to keep the diesel tax at 5 cents per gallon, compared with 8,078 votes against.

First approved by the oversight board in 2020, the tax was due to expire at the end of this year without voter approval. He raised about half a million dollars a year in funding for road improvements, adding to the city’s total annual funding of about $4.5 million.

“I am thrilled that Carson City voters have recognized the need to keep this tax going to improve our highway system,” Carson City Mayor Lori Bagwell said Wednesday. “Furthermore, that they have confidence in their oversight board to spend those funds wisely.”

Carson City supervisor Stacey Giomi was also optimistic, but noted there was still work to be done.

“I was pleasantly surprised with the results of this,” Giomi said Wednesday. “I am happy that our community has realized that solving our road problems is going to take the whole community. It’s going to take careful thought and hard work on everyone’s part to decide how we can make it work in a way that’s acceptable to everyone. The diesel tax is a good first step in trying to solve road problems.

Carson City Transportation Director Chris Martinovich echoed the supervisors’ outlook on Thursday.

“The ‘yes’ vote to keep the diesel tax was positive for Carson City,” Martinovich said. “While it is only a small part of the overall road budget, the pass means we can continue to use these funds to repair and rebuild our roads and other road-related elements, all areas where needs are greatest. essential.”

Even with the levy maintained, however, the city still faces a $21 million annual gap between funding and maintenance needs. This week, city staff presented the findings of a new report to the Regional Transportation Commission.

Developed in consultation with Hansford Economic Consulting, the report says homeowners paying $50 a month could significantly close the road funding gap. It explores several new funding mechanisms, including a new quarter-cent sales tax, maintaining the V&T infrastructure sales tax of one-eighth cent, slated to end in 2027, and tax districts. general improvement with special assessments on properties.

The GID option is estimated to generate the most revenue: $12.2 million per year. That compares to about $4 million a year for the new sales tax and about $1 million for the continued V&T tax. GID parcel fees for snow removal and street lighting would add another $800,000.

“GIDs can be configured to cover a wide variety of roads and road-related tasks, possibly including snow removal and street lighting,” Martinovich said. “Under Nevada’s revised law, if snow removal and street lighting are part of the GID, package fees are the method of collection. We are still very preliminary. Both the actual scope of the GID and the method of assessment are undetermined at this stage, as it is only one of the mechanisms being considered.

Martinovich said unlike a sales tax, the board of supervisors could enact GIDs.

“Based on initial research we have done, the only mechanism that requires voter approval is the new quarter-cent sales tax under NRS 377A,” he said. “Other mechanisms may be adopted with the approval of the Supervisory Board, at its discretion.”

According to the report, even if the aforementioned sources of funding were approved, a funding gap of $3 million would remain. However, the city is constantly seeking federal grants. Federal grants can be used for regional city roads, but not for neighborhood streets, which make up the majority of the road network.

“The discrepancy ($3 million) is not specific to a certain type of road,” Martinovich said. “It was an illustrative example of the only possible way to ‘close’ the pavement funding gap. The city has generally been successful in obtaining federal grants, and we hope to continue to be successful in the future, but these grants are competitive and not guaranteed.

The estimated cost to Carson City homeowners for new sources of funding would be $50 per month. This would include $11.50 per month for new sales tax, $35 per month for GID special assessment, and $3.50 per month for parcel fees.

To help residents understand the issues of financing roads, the city has recently developed a new website, https://www.carson.org/government/departments-gz/public-works/preserve-carson-city-roads.

Depending on the site, more than 60% of major regional roads (collectors and arteries) are doing well, in good or satisfactory condition. Local neighborhood roads, which make up 71% of the city’s total roads, fare significantly worse. Less than 30% of local neighborhood roads are in the good or satisfactory category. More than 45% are in poor condition or worse.

Martinovich said the report’s findings will go to supervisors next year.

“There is further research that is needed as a result of RTC input,” he said. “The point will probably be brought to the supervisory board during the first half of 2023.”

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