W.Va. DOH Learns Residents OK With New Road Taxes

Tue March 23, 2010 - Northeast Edition
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CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (AP) A series of public forums on highway funding is showing West Virginia highway officials that residents aren’t opposed to tax increases for roads.

Rob Watson with the Division of Highways said the most popular suggestion to come from the forums is small tax and fee increases over a long period of time.

The DOH is holding public meetings across the state in an effort to develop a plan that will guide transportation planning for the next 25 years. A draft of that plan will be available on April 1, but the agency will continue accepting comments until May 15.

According to the Department of Transportation, the state could raise another $100 million a year for highways if there were increases of 2 cents on the fuel tax, $5 on vehicle registration fees, $2.40 on the license fee and 1.2 percent on the privilege tax.

State residents currently pay an average of $413 a year in transportation-related taxes and fees.

The current state gas tax is 32.2 cents per gallon. The registration fee for a car or pickup is $30.

State Road Fund collections were $387.7 million at the end of February, or about $6 million below anticipated collections. Fuel tax collections, however, were $246 million, or $5.5 million more than projected.

“The Legislature will ultimately decide whether to raise taxes for what is needed over the next 25 years,” Watson said.

Lawmakers recently approved a pair of bills that could change how road work is paid for in West Virginia. The measures would enact new tolls and authorize local bonds to replace faltering gas tax revenues. The measures are awaiting Gov. Joe Manchin’s signature.

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