Carson City OKs 5-cent diesel tax; will go on 2022 ballot
CARSON CITY, Nev. — The Board of Supervisors on Thursday, Nov. 7, voted to impose a 5-cent-per-gallon tax on diesel fuel starting sometime in 2020 and then put it on the ballot in 2022 for voters to decide whether to continue it.
The vote was 4-1 with Supervisor Lori Bagwell voting no.
“I feel very strongly that the public already voted in Carson City. I cannot vote contrary to the voters,” said Bagwell referring to the gas tax ballot question in 2016, which failed. “If you vote it down that sends me the message this is not a priority. I want to send it to a ballot and I want them to approve it.”
Earlier this year the Nevada Legislature passed Senate Bill 48, which allows rural counties to levy up to 5 cents per gallon on diesel fuel and retain it for local road work.
Both gas and diesel are currently taxed 52 cents per gallon, but all the revenues from diesel goes to the state and federal government while the city gets 15 cents of the regular fuel tax.
The new law allows rural counties to decide whether to impose the tax by ordinance or through a ballot, and the supervisors decided on a mix of the two options.
The vote required three motions. Supervisor John Barrette first moved to pass the 5 cent levy by ordinance and that vote failed with Bagwell and Supervisor Stacey Giomi voting no. Then Bagwell moved to put the question to voters via ballot and that failed to garner a second.
Finally, Supervisor Brad Bonkowski moved to impose a short-term tax by ordinance and two years later take it to the voters, who could vote whether to end it or keep it, and that passed by the required 4-1 vote.
“I know Public Works is not in favor because we can’t bond, but it does enable us to start making road repairs. Then people can make a more informed decision,” said Bonkowski.
Because the tax could be temporary, the city would not be able to bond against it and raise additional money for road work.
Sheri Russell, chief financial officer, said the city recently bonded for $3 million against $500,000 so the expected revenue from a diesel tax would allow less than $3 million in bonds.
The tax is projected to raise about $400,000 annually for the city. Lucia Maloney, transportation manager, said road reconstruction costs roughly $1 million a mile, but the $400,000 could be better used for crack filling and other projects that extend the life of road.
Christal Park Keegan’s professional experience includes working as an attorney for the National Judicial College in Reno and for the Chapman Law Firm in Northern Nevada.