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Campbell County Concerned About Less Money for Roads as Gas Tax Drops

At the Campbell County Fiscal Court meeting in Alexandria on Wednesday night, County Administrator Robert Horine gave some grave projections in terms of the money the county and the state will lose due to the low cost of gas and its bearing on the state's Gas Tax.

The money generated by the Gas Tax pays for road maintenance on both state and local levels. The problem, therefore, is that lower gas prices generate less tax money to pay for roads and Campbell County and other local governments have adopted resolutions supporting legislature of a Road Fund stabilizing measure to be brought up at the 2015 Kentucky General Assembly.

Mr. Horine said that the County will lose $55,000 in 2015, and will have $191,000 less in 2016 if actions aren't taken by state officials. The state's road fund stands to lose $29 million this year and $100 million next year.

He called the structure of the Gas Tax a flawed formula.

“One of the other problems is that when this formula was put into law, there was no limit as to how far the tax can go down. There is a floor, but we haven't gotten all the way down to that yet. That would be absolutely devastating if it went all the way to the floor, but it can drop in big chunks.”

There is a cap, however, on how quickly the tax can elevate, which is in 10 percent increments. Mr. Horine said that prices are expected to drop even more to five less cents per gallon by April, and that every cent that the price drops translates to a loss of $30 million for the state.

“So if the price drops on April 1 as it is scheduled to, it will be the year 2021 before the Gas Tax would ever get back to the level that we were when this whole process started,” Horine said.

“It's a catch-22 for the tax payers,” County Commissioner Charlie Coleman said about the Gas Tax. “Gas prices go down, which we all want to see, and you would think that would mean good things for us and now we're finding out it's the opposite.”

“It's like when you have a house with an old roof and you have to replace it, but you don't replace it and water comes in and ruins the inside. You haven't saved money by not replacing the roof; you've made the job bigger and more expensive by ignoring the maintenance requirements,” County Judge-Executive Steve Pendery added.

When Coleman asked Judge Pendery if he supported a tax increase, Pendery said that it depends on one's perspective.

“If somebody wants to focus on the rate, then the rates would go up,” he said, “ but if you look at the amount of money that's coming in, it will be less than it was last year. So to me it matters what you pay and not so much how it's calculated, and if you're paying less, I think you got a break.”

Additional notes:

  • The Campbell County Fiscal Court will apply for funds made available by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet for repairs made to Ten Mile Bridge and Daniels Road Bridge. The estimated cost of both repairs are $186,000 which Campbell County will pay 20 percent of with the KTC picking up the rest.
  • The County will hire 41 employees in the parks and golf departments on a seasonal basis, 19 of which are eligible to enroll in the Affordable Care Act which could cost the County as much as $79,000 if all were to enroll. Robert Mason takes over for the retired Steve Meyers as Golf Course Supervisor.
  • The County received $49,000 gift to the county parks from an anonymous donor.

Story & photo by Bryan Burke, associate editor