BOONE COUNTY, Ark. – The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department is struggling to fix the state’s failing roads and it’s looking for a new revenue stream as a potential solution.
The AHTD recently released a citizen survey to see if and what type of taxes residents might be open to.
“If the gas tax spreads [the tax] out more – you’re more likely to use gas,” says Boone County resident, Alba Taylor, who says he would support an increase in the fuel tax.
“There are some spots that are pretty bad – pot holes and things that need fixed,” he says. “Especially on the county roads. You have some bad roads around here.”
“Not gas tax, gas is too expensive already,” says fellow resident, Adrienne Veal.
Veal says she might be willing to pay for an increase in the tax on car-related parts like batteries and tires.
“Because you don’t buy those every day,” she says.
Arkansas has more than 16,000-miles of highway – 12th most in the nation. The AHTD says current revenue streams aren’t enough to maintain the state’s system.
Some of the new revenue streams being floated by the AHTD on the citizen survey include:
• Increasing the gas and or diesel tax
• Increasing the sales tax
• Increasing vehicle registration fees
• Taxing the wholesale price of fuel
• Redirecting taxes on vehicle-related sales to roads
“We’ve got twice as many cars on the road now, and construction cost has gone up 600-percent since the [gas] tax was last raised,” says Rep. Dan Douglas of Benton County.
Douglas pushed for an increase in the fuel tax during the last legislative session but it failed. He says the current gas tax – 21.5 cents per gallon – hasn’t been raised in nearly 25-years.
He’s a believer the road-related problems will only get worse the longer the can is kicked down the road.
“Fuel efficiency has gone up so much,” he says. “I drive a truck that gets 22-miles to the gallon. Ten to 15-years ago, it was 10 [miles to the gallon].”
The AHTD hopes to put a funding initiative before voters in November of 2018.