Kenwood Press


Serving the communities of Kenwood, Glen Ellen and Oakmont

email print
News: 04/15/2017

Gas tax, fees will boost road repairs statewide

Bill includes some fundamental changes in road, infrastructure support



Bad roads are old news to Sonoma County citizens. Vocal groups like SOSRoads have successfully pushed county government to increase repair funding for the past four years, but there has never been enough money to fix the miserable condition of the county’s 1,380 miles of roads, most of which are substandard.

State highways alone have $59 billion in deferred maintenance, according to a legislative analysis of the bill. On average, a California driver spends approximately $700 a year for repairs caused by rough roads.

The first increase in gasoline excise taxes in 23 years was passed by the state legislature on April 6. Along with increases in registration fees and improvements to Caltrans efficiency, coupled with new oversight, this should provide $52.4 billion over the next 10 years.

Besides fixing roads, these taxes fund the Department of Motor Vehicles and the California Highway Patrol.

The universal outcry over the state’s bad roads is reflected in the support of groups as varied as SOSRoads and the Sonoma County Taxpayer’s Association (SCTA).

“We think it was a really important piece of the puzzle in getting our roads in shape,” SOSRoads founder Craig Harrison said. “Give [the county supervisors] credit for putting more money in roads, but they are hitting a plateau. This is a great leap forward. We are confident that the county will maintain the current level of funding and supplements.”

According to the terms of the Road Maintenance and Rehabilitation Act, counties will have to maintain their current levels of road spending to keep getting state funds for road repairs.

Tim Hannon, SCTA president, however reluctantly, agrees that the new revenues are sorely needed.

“The roads need to be fixed,” Hannon said. “And the new bill imposes efficiency measures on Caltrans, eliminating waste, and makes sure that transportation dollars are spent on transportation.”

While he finds the new taxes regressive, he gives them a grudging yes. “They’re necessary,” said Hannon.

But, he added, “The SCTA would like to see the Legislature get more fiscally responsible, cut back on bloated pensions, reduce the number of bureaucrats, and eliminate the high speed rail boondoggle.”

Raising the excise taxes and fees won’t take another 23 years. The new law subjects these tax rates and fees, other than the diesel sales tax, to annual adjustments based on the California Consumer Price Index.

“The bill will bring in over $5 billion annually in new revenues,” bill co-sponsor Mike McGuire said. According to McGuire’s statement issued right after the bill was passed, Sonoma County stands to be a big winner. McGuire said Sonoma County is targeted to receive $20,739,000 annually, compared to $9.7 million for Marin, $5.6 million for Mendocino, and $7.7 for Humboldt counties.

Like most tax bills, the details are complex and somewhat murky.

Most of the new tax increases on gasoline and diesel fuel take effect on Nov. 1, including both excise and sales taxes. Excise taxes are built into the price of fuel while sales taxes are charged at the time of sale.

Specifically, the bill increases the excise tax on gasoline by 12 cents a gallon, the excise tax on diesel by 20 cents a gallon, and adds four percent to the diesel fuels sales tax. All of these are effective on Nov 1.

Vehicle registration fees will increase from $25 to $175 a year, depending on the vehicle’s valuation. These new fees will begin in 2018.

Even electric cars will have to support the cause. A $100 registration fee on zero-emission cars will start in 2020.

Over $700 million of the new income will be used to retire debts owed by the General Fund to specific transportation accounts, money that was “borrowed” over the past 10 years. How using future transportation tax money to pay back transportation funds borrowed discharges General Fund debts is not explained.

Most of the new money will be split evenly between state and local projects, with some money being earmarked for special trade corridors to reduce congestion at places like the Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

About $34 billion of the first $52 billion would go to repairing roads, bridges, highways and culverts, with most of the money split 50-50 between state and local projects.

Another $7 billion over the first decade would go to mass transit projects.

Fifty percent of the diesel excise tax increase ($0.10), estimated at $300 million, will fund corridor-based freight projects nominated by the state and local agencies, including roads serving the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, and would go toward reducing congestion on the most clogged commuter routes.

The bill also creates an Independent Office of Audits and Investigations within Caltrans to ensure the department and external entities are expending state and federal resources efficiently and effectively.

An estimated $750 million annually will be allocated for public transportation capital projects and operating expenses. These include local transit operators and for commuter and intercity passenger rail projects.

A grandfather clause will keep some diesel trucks operating up to 18 years that might otherwise be retired due to unknown future emission standards.



Email: jay@kenwoodpress.com

Recently Published:

07/01/2019 - Cal Fire suspends burn permits in Sonoma County
07/01/2019 - Oakmont board will bid on golf facilities
07/01/2019 - Workshop refines vision for SDC future
07/01/2019 - Cyclist hurt in Glen Ellen
07/01/2019 - Keep your eyes open – it’s tick season
07/01/2019 - County reminds residents of fireworks ban
07/01/2019 - Hiking duo honored as parade grand marshals
07/01/2019 - Update your contact info with PG&E
07/01/2019 - Rebuilding by the numbers
07/01/2019 - Eldridge P.O. temporarily relocated to Glen Ellen
07/01/2019 - A big MAC for New Year’s
07/01/2019 - Cannabis dispensary proposed for Kenwood
07/01/2019 - Three open positions at Kenwood School
06/15/2019 - PG&E installs new fire cameras in Sonoma Valley
06/15/2019 - Impact100 Sonoma awards $324,00 in grants
06/15/2019 - Glen Ellen Forum hears about housing, applauds funding
06/15/2019 - Sonoma Valley County Sanitation District customers will see rates increase next year
06/15/2019 - Kenwood parks, county properties to see end of pesticide use
06/15/2019 - Free curbside debris chipping available
06/15/2019 - Scot Medbury named new director of Quarryhill in Glen Ellen
06/15/2019 - Is the red flag flying?
06/15/2019 - Ecology Center named nonprofit of the year
06/15/2019 - Dunbar volunteer tutors sharpen kids’ reading skills
06/15/2019 - Learn more about the MAC citizens group
06/15/2019 - Volunteers beautify Glen Ellen

Community Calendar

Oakmont Farmers Market
07/20/2019
more...
Walk ‘n Wag
07/20/2019
more...
‘Forest bathing’ hike
07/20/2019
more...
“Fantastical Family Night” at Jack London
07/20/2019
more...
Kenwood Community Church service
07/21/2019
more...
Butterflies and dragonflies hike
07/21/2019
more...
Al Anon meeting
07/24/2019
more...
Bingo at Rincon Valley Grange
07/24/2019
more...
Volunteer training begins at Quarryhill Botanical Garden
07/24/2019
more...
Funky Fridays concerts at Hood Mansion
07/26/2019
more...
Oakmont Farmers Market
07/27/2019
more...


Weather Underground PWS KCAKENWO2