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October 22, 2014

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Las Vegas gas prices likely headed up, if Nevada passes fuel-tax bill

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Steve Marcus

Prices for gasoline near $4.00 per gallon at this station on Blue Diamond Road Thursday, April 14, 2011.

Gas prices could increase statewide under a bill that received strong support today from lawmakers and business groups.

The gas tax increases would begin later this year in Clark County, if the Clark County Commission approves tethering various gas taxes to a certain measure of the inflation rate. So as the price of goods balloons, so, too, does the gas tax.

The bill would allow Clark County commissioners to take a vote before Oct. 1 whether to impose the tax plan. It would remain in effect until 2016, when voters would have to vote whether to continue it.

An amendment to Assembly Bill 413 would put the same taxing proposal to voters statewide in 2016.

If passed, all counties statewide would pay higher prices at the pump as gas taxes ratchet up with the inflation rate, which is called gas tax indexing.

It’s likely that the Clark County Commission will approve the tax this year, having already submitted to the Legislature a resolution supporting the bill.

The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada estimates the tax would cost the average driver an extra 3 cents per gallon, or $16 a year.

The Department of Motor Vehicles said Clark County motorists used 740.6 million gallons of gasoline last fiscal year. The increased tax would have brought the county an extra $22.2 million.

Supporters of the bill say it would help pay for highway infrastructure needs, create jobs, spur economic development and diversification, allow Nevada to leverage federal highway matching funds and allow local transportation agencies to bond against the gas tax revenue to pay for more transportation projects.

“We are excited that we have so much community and legislative support for this bill,” said Tina Quigley, general manager of the RTC of Southern Nevada. “We appreciate that an investment in transportation infrastructure is one of the best things we can do for economic development in our community.”

The bill began with the RTC of Southern Nevada as its main backer. But it could have statewide consequences, with all Nevadans considering the 2016 ballot measure.

Legislators, businesses and transportation groups say there’s a need for the tax because revenues from fuel taxes don’t buy what they used to.

Inflation has reduced the purchasing power of fixed cent-per-gallon fuel taxes, and the proliferation of hybrid, electric and fuel-efficient cars means that governments do not collect as much in fuel taxes as in the past.

That’s good for consumers but bad for the state of roads and bridges, which the state repairs with fuel tax dollars.

Washoe County got the same permission from the Legislature in 2009 and has been collecting taxes above the 9-cent county-level cap on gasoline taxes due to its inflation-adjusted tax.

That county’s index tax raised gas prices last year about 1.5 cents above what they otherwise would have been absent the tax, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

The bill still needs to pass the Assembly and Senate.

It has bipartisan support in the Assembly, and Quigley said she’s heard of no opposition in the Senate.

Nobody testified against the bill in the Assembly Ways and Means Committee on Thursday.

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  1. As long as the tax collected is a local tax and stays in Clark County and is only used for transportation maintenance and improvements, then I can support this. While I never like paying more for gas (I can remember filling up for 65 cents a gallon), many cars today are getting higher gas milage but are still using the same four tires on the pavement.

    So lets all pay a little more. Maybe they just might complete the 215 to full interstate standards around the new VA hospital.

  2. Assembly & Senate full of Democrats. Another tax increase? Surprise, Surprise.

    How much of this money will go to fund more stupid sculptures of horses and sheep, rock gardens, and paintings on the side of the freeways and roads? Seriously, was that carpool off ramp from the 95 to Summerlin Parkway really the best use of funds?

    I have been in Vegas 13 years and they are constantly digging up the same streets over and over and over again in the same spots.

    They make cars more expensive by demanding higher gas mileage, and incentivise people to get hybrids and electric cars at tax payers expense, then complain they are not getting enough tax revenues because people are not buying as much gas?

    A 3 cent per gallon tax increase is a 33% increase that will rise exponentially with inflation over time.

    Charge hybrid & electric car owners a surtax and leave the rest of us alone. There was an article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday about a guy effectively paying nothing for a 2 year lease of an electric car due to government subsidies and tax credits. What are people like him contributing to road services?

  3. Drivers license/amnesty for illegals. New gas tax, gay marriage. Yup that's whats important to the state with the highest unemployment, largest home foreclosure and the worst schools.. NOT!!!

    I guess when the state pays all your expenses as in the legislator and illegals, you forget that someone has to work to pay for all this and it will always be more than they say. 3 cents a gallon? In who's dream??

  4. Pettyjohn, I can top that. I used to buy 10 gallons of gas for 3 bucks and got a free glass, to boot. Cigarettes were 20 cents a pack & burgers were a dime, French fries 15 cents at McDonald's. So what? I also made a whopping 55 cents an hour stocking shelves at a department store. More to the point, we have to rein in the tax & spend crowd so prevalent in our legislative bodies. They are simply out of control and are hurtling the USA towards bankruptcy. I cannot believe they run their own finances on such an irresponsible basis as they do the public's money.

  5. Gas prices rise in may every year. People drive more then & threw the summer.