CARSON CITY — Representatives from Carson City and surrounding counties spoke at the Legislature on Tuesday in support of a bill that would let rural counties collect tax on diesel fuel.
Senate Bill 439 would allow county commissions in counties with populations of less than 100,000 to impose up to a 5 cent tax on diesel fuel for road maintenance.
County commissions would have to pass an ordinance, which requires two readings at public meetings to be approved.
Cheryl Blomstrom, interim president, Nevada Taxpayers Association, suggested the bill should require counties to pass an ordinance, collect data for two years, then put it to a vote of the people to approve the tax, especially since gas tax indexing measures recently failed throughout the state’s smaller counties.
“If voters say yes, fine. If they say no then it’s the will of the people,” Blomstrom told the Senate Committee on Revenue and Economic Development, which heard the bill.
Supporters of the bill said its not comparable to what voters voted down in the 2016 election.
“We developed this as completely different than what was on the ballot,” said Mary Walker, representing Carson and Douglas, Lyon and Storey counties. “This mirrors what is in existing statute.”
Clark and Washoe counties already have the authority to raise taxes on diesel and the remaining counties have the authority to impose a 5 cent tax on gasoline.
SB 439 would extend that authority to diesel for the rural counties.
Also, Walker said, this is not indexing. The amount will not change annually and only up to 5 cents can be levied.
Walker introduced an amendment to the bill that would hold 20 percent of the collected taxes in trust for the creation of truck parking in counties that sell more than 10 million gallons of diesel annually.
In 2016, 4,359,850 gallons of diesel were sold in Carson City so the city would receive 100 percent of the tax collected if the amended bill passes.
The committee also discussed adding language that would make clear how the collections would be distributed between the county and the cities within the county, which would also not affect Carson City since it’s a consolidated municipality.
If the bill passes, Carson City could expect to collect $217,993 based on its 2016 sales if the Board of Supervisors imposed a 5 cent tax on diesel.
Carson City’s sales of diesel could grow. With the freeway bypass to Highway 50 opening, the city will be the last stop for trucks to fuel before entering California where fuel prices are higher.
The new Golden Gate gas station on Highway 50 sells diesel and the Maverik station on College Parkway is adding it.
The highway to provide access from Lyon County to the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center in Storey County, too, could affect the area.
“With the USA Parkway we’re anticipating seeing truck traffic increase,” said Jeff Page, Lyon County manager.
Speaking in support of the bill were Nick Marano, Carson City manager, and Brad Bonkowski, Carson City supervisor and chair of the Regional Transportation Commission, who said the city spends about $2 million annually on streets that need $15 million in maintenance.
“So our streets continue to deteriorate despite our best efforts to maintain them,” said Bonkowski. “This would bridge a portion of that gap. It will not be a total solution, but it’s a step in the right direction.”