Fueling in Idaho could get a bit more expensive.
The Idaho Transportation Board has recommended the state
keep its 25-cent-per-gallon fuel tax intact, and add a sales tax to fuel
purchases. They also recommended boosting fees for trucking permits.
The board said the additional money from the 6 percent sales
tax is needed because the state faces a $200 million shortfall in its annual
highway construction budget. If approved, Idaho would become the tenth state to
collect the tax on fuel purchases.
In a press release, Frank Bruneel, chairman of the
Transportation Board, said "we're not just crying wolf here" about a funding
crisis. Higher construction and maintenance costs, stagnant revenues and
Idaho's booming population were cited as the roots of a problem that can't be
Officials said levying a sales tax on fuel could generate
$108 million per year. The board also recommended that lawmakers pass bills to
raise an additional $95 million, The
Associated Press reported.
Possible revenue enhancers include increasing fees for
trucking permits and vehicle registrations by 75 percent. Eliminating a tax
exemption for ethanol also was mentioned.
The new money would be used to help pay for roads, the Idaho
State Police, railroad crossings, bridge inspections and the state Department
of Parks and Recreation, The AP
The board's recommendations will be forwarded to the Idaho
Legislature and Gov.-elect Butch Otter during the legislative session that
begins Jan. 8.