As I started thinking through ideas that would generate enough funds to meet the road need, I first looked into the idea of creating our own “gas tax” in Kaysville. Just as we have been given the power via the state to have an independent sales tax, I wanted to know if such a thing would be possible for gas. In researching this, I learned a couple things.
- Gas tax, as it is currently administered, is collected at the refinery before gas is distributed. This allows for lower overhead so that these monies can go further. The state divvies this tax out to the cities.
- At present, there is no allowance written into the state code that would allow for a city to set it’s own gas tax. In order to go down this road, we would have to find a state congressperson willing to sponsor a bill to change the code and then lobby for passage of the bill.
So, in order for Kaysville to implement a gas tax, we would have to go through the process of, first, gaining permission (which could not happen until the next legislative session) and, second, create our own medium for collecting the tax from the local gas stations. This becomes a much more complicated process than I originally anticipated so I turned to other modes of funding our needed road improvements.
The two main ideas still to explore were creating a road usage fee and/or taking out a municipal bond to cover the cost. Both of these ideas have virtues and downsides. Some road usage fee positives are that it can be written into the city code so that it can only be used for roads, can be adjustable based on anticipated need, and can be discontinued if general budget has greater capacities than anticipated. Some road fee negatives are that it could place undue burden on individuals who do not use the roads and it will add cost to households monthly utility bill. Some municipal bonding positives are that at present, interest rates are relatively low and may be more economical than cost of inflation would be over the next 10 years and a large influx of funds could allow for more projects to be undertaken up front thus lessening the overall damage that would have to be repaired in the long term. Some negatives are that we would be adding debt to the cities balance sheets and if this debt were not properly planned we could end up with a similar deficit at the end of the repayment period.
In my opinion, a combination of these two options would yield the best long term solution for Kaysville. I believe that we would need to create a road usage fee originating around $10/household and a slightly higher fee for businesses. If there were a way to tie the fee into county car registration records, that would be ideal. Additionally, I think that the city should explore the possibility of taking out a bond to help jump start the projects. The caveats in this would be a thorough review of the existing budget to make sure that no unnecessary expenditures are persisting and making sure that there was a concrete repayment plan in place before the bond was issued. I think that through these two avenues we will be able to see the roads get the needed maintenance as well as ensuring that Kaysville can remain Utah’s hometown.
Note: I have created spreadsheets with very speculative numbers of what would be needed for a long term repayment plan. If you have interest in playing with these numbers to get a rough idea of what would be needed, feel free to contact me.