County officials back diesel tax bill at Nevada Legislature
A parade of local officials turned out Thursday, Feb. 28, to support a bill that would allow Nevada’s smaller counties to put a nickel a gallon tax on diesel fuel to pay for roads.
Authors of SB48 point out that currently, gas-powered vehicle owners pay 9 cents a gallon toward road maintenance and construction, but diesel owners pay nothing except in Clark and Washoe counties, which capture diesel revenue through indexing.
Dagney Stapleton of the Nevada Association of Counties said the bill would allow county commissioners to either raise the diesel tax up to a nickle per gallon by a two-thirds vote or to put it to a vote of the people.
Paul Enos of the Nevada Trucking Association said that organization supports the bill because it would provide money to maintain the roads truckers need and would make Nevada the first state in the nation to deal with the issue of truck parking.
The bill provides that some funding raised would be used to build proper truck parking areas by taking some funds from those counties that sell more than 10 million gallons of diesel a year.
He said trucks deliver 92 percent of freight to Nevadans but that there is a huge issue with the lack of truck parking. As a result, he said trucks are parking on the interstates, off ramps and in neighborhoods across Nevada.
He said that is a huge issue and that a study is already under way to identify where those parking areas would be built.
Mary Walker, representing Carson City, Douglas, Storey and Lyon counties, said all those entities support the legislation.
She and Lyon Manager Jeff Page said the tax would raise about $2.3 million a year in Lyon, providing $900,000 to Fernley, $30,000 to Yerington and more than $1.3 million to the county itself.
Carson City Mayor Bob Crowell said it would provide about $400,000 a year in the capital. While that is just a small piece of the city’s needs, “it’s a step in the right direction.” He said the biggest of Carson projects in the works is the $18 million South Carson Street project from downtown to the Highway 50/U.S. 395 freeway.
Churchill County, Elko County and Humboldt officials also weighed in to support the bill.
The measure was opposed by several people including Janine Hansen who argued the measure should require approval of both two-thirds of the county commission members and a vote of the people. She said many small counties have just three commissioners so the tax could be raised by a vote of just two commissioners.
The committee took no action on the measure.
“Unfortunately, once developers show up, history disappears and that’s what’s happening to Harrah’s Reno. Like the historic 1875 Adele’s building in Carson City, Bill Harrah’s crown jewel will disappear into the dustbin of history.”