Tom Warne Report, 17 August 2012
The gasoline tax is not providing adequate funding for roads any longer, Utah officials say, as a result of more fuel efficient vehicles, alternative fuels and people driving less in the poor economic conditions. State lawmakers said this week that the problem has reached a critical level and called for a one-day summit later this year for taxation and transportation committees to jointly meet with experts to study alternatives including toll implementation, gas tax hikes, or pulling revenue from property, sales or utility taxes for road work.
“I think there are multiple options,” said Sen. Stuart Adams, R-Layton, a former chairman of the Utah Transportation Commission. “Utah is not the only state with these type of issues.” He said they hope to find out what others are doing to address the concerns.
The concerns were brought to the attention of the Revenue and Taxation Interim Committee when Provo Mayor John Curtis asked lawmakers to give cities the authority to charge a new property tax just to cover road maintenance. Curtis said his city has previously used laws that allow cities to use bond borrowing to pay for road maintenance, but the money was often depleted in just three years, while the payments continued for 10 years. This resulted in little maintenance occurring in the latter years of that period. The city says that if it could use a new property tax to fund roads, it could stop the continuous borrowing, and use money for roads rather than interest payments.