Commissioners Vote to Increase Gas Tax - 8 News NOW

Commissioners Vote to Increase Gas Tax

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LAS VEGAS -- Clark County Commissioners voted Tuesday to increase the fuel tax rate to pay for infrastructure improvements around the county.

Under the plan, fuel taxes will go up 3 cents per-gallon, per-year, which will fund up to $700 million in projects, including the Boulder City Bypass and the plan to make the 215 beltway into a complete freeway.

During the first year, which starts in January, the Regional Transportation Commission says motorists can expect to pay an average of $16 more at the pump. In the second year, which is expected to start next summer, drivers can expect to pay $30 more. By the third year, drivers can expect to pay approximately $50 more.

Commissioner Steve Sisolak was the lone vote against the increase.

"I have advocated and argued all along that I think all taxes need to be fair, stable, and broad-cased, and I don't think this tax is any of the three," he said.

Sisolak believes taxpayers are getting a bad deal, but his colleague Larry Brown looks at it differently.

"You take the average driver, right now, congestion is costing them between $800 and $900 a year," Brown, who also chairs the Regional Transportation Committee, said.

Several citizens expressed their opposition to the increase at the commission meeting. Most who opposed the idea did not want to pay more for gas, and they were worried about government waste.

"As we are now, we're pinching pennies to make it. So a dime a day is a little bit too much to me," driver Michelle Brown said.

Union members wore orange to the commission meeting to show their solidarity for the tax.

"It was the right thing to do. There is no question the only way out of this recession is to put people back to work," executive secretary-treasurer with the Nevada AFL-CIO Danny Thompson said.

Supporters of the proposal feel it will increase construction jobs. The RTC says the tax will create between 8,900 and 9,400 jobs.

The southern Nevada business community also backed the tax because it will improve traffic flows.

"Infrastructure is investment. Investment is what creates jobs and what maintains commerce in our community," Tim Cashman with the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce said.

The tax may not last forever. Voters will be able to say yes or no to the gas tax in 2016.

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