Gas tax still in committee
A proposed bill increasing Iowa’s gas tax hasn’t made it out of committee, which would help repair roads in Washington County.
If passed, Iowa House File 514 would increase the gas tax beginning July 1, 2014, by 3 cents; another 3 cents beginning July 1, 2015; and 4 cents beginning July 1, 2016 which would be equal to a 10 cent increase in Iowa’s gas tax, the house file read.
“Right now based on the estimates done with the Iowa Department of Transportation (I-DOT) and with current driving trends based off of the 10 cents per gallon this would bring $600,000 to $700,000 of additional revenue depending on the year,” Washington County engineer Jacob Thorius said. “For 2014, we would have $624,000 in additional revenue.”
The average person driving 15,000 miles per year with a car that averages 15 miles per gallon would see a $2 increase per month on gas, which equals $100 per year, according to Thorius’ calculations.
“The county engineers group has been trying to move it out of committee but there’s still political football being played,” he said. “The way we see it, this isn’t a political issue. It’s an issue for us all.”
Washington County has about 900 miles of roads, 660 of which are gravel roads, Thorius said.
“A lot of those gravel roads were built in the ‘50s to ‘60s and haven’t been touched since,” Thorius said. “The type of traffic on those roads has changed and they’re just worn out. They need to be rebuilt and the ditches need to be cleaned.”
For now, weight limits have been put on the gravel roads that are showing signs of needing repair, Thorius said.
“We also have bridges that are closed because there aren’t funds to repair them,” he said.
At the legislative briefing in January, Thorius spoke about the conditions of the county’s roads and the need for more money to repair them.
Sen. Rich Taylor, D-Dist. 42, and Rep. David Heaton, R-Dist. 84, both said the gas tax probably wouldn’t pass because there was lack of support.