LAS VEGAS -- Nevadans were asked if they would rather pay a higher fuel tax or halt road construction in the latest Impact Nevada poll.
The Nevada Department of Transportation gets a bulk of its funding through fuel taxes. It is a lump sum that comes out of every gallon of gas Nevadans buy. The Impact Nevada poll showed 41.8 percent wouldn't mind the fuel taxes being raised just enough to improve local roads. Less than 13 percent would like a fuel tax increase to expand interstate highways and local roads. However, 42.2 percent would rather stop road construction than pay more fuel taxes.
If you've driven I-15 lately, you know what's happening. Project after project. A new overpass here, lane-widening there. It means new jobs and better roads, according to NDOT's Rudy Malfabon. But he knows how people feel.
"They probably are tired of the construction cones around the valley and around the state," said Malfabon, NDOT.
The new poll numbers back him up. On the topic of road maintenance, almost one-third of the 600 people polled want to spend less on patching potholes than face higher fuel taxes. Most people would rather raise taxes just enough to keep roads going. Malfabon isn't too shocked.
"They're not going to want to pay more for fuel tax. Definitely that's loud and clear," he said.
The fuel tax is actually a complicated, relatively unknown, part of your price at the pump. Right now, every gallon of gas includes a little more than 18 cents specifically tabbed for Nevada. It is one of the most stable taxes around.
"The gas tax hasn't been increased since 1993. And it also does not change when prices change. Even at $4 a gallon, it stays at 18 cents," Malfabon said.
When it comes to new roads, most people say forget about new construction, they are fine with what we already have. They don't want taxes. Only 12 percent say raise taxes to get newer roads. Malfabon gets the public anger toward taxes. There probably won't be a push to change the 17 year old rate.
"Nobody wants to pay any more taxes. A lot of people in the private sector and the private side have taken pay cuts. And we understand that."
Malfabon did say NDOT got a major boost from stimulus money and has been able to create or retain 1,500 jobs.