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Public meeting set to discuss taxing miles driven

By ThisIsReno

SUBMITTED NEWS RELEASE

The Nevada Department of Transportation will host a public meeting Thursday, July 21, to gather public comments on a study of a potential future fuel tax replacement.

The Vehicle Miles Traveled Fee Study examines alternatives to allow Nevada to continue to fund public roads amid a transportation funding deficit and changing energy resource issues:

· By 2016, vehicle fuel efficiency will increase to an average 37 miles a gallon and an estimated 20 percent of new vehicles will be alternative fuel vehicles. While an important positive for our environment, this will lead to less road funding collected from fuel taxes per gallon to fund public roads.

· Current funding for road construction, maintenance and operations comes from fuel taxes. Today, due to inflation, these fuel taxes cover approximately half of the road construction, maintenance and operations costs per gallon that they funded when last raised in 1992.

The study, a partnership between NDOT and University of Nevada, Las Vegas and University of Nevada, Reno researchers, reviews VMT fees as a potential fuel tax replacement. In this study, participants being charged a fee based on the number of miles driven instead of per-gallon fuel taxes will be simulated. Similar studies are being conducted in other states and by federal agencies.

“The manner in which we collect money and fuel taxes for transportation has not kept pace with our country’s changing times and needs,” NDOT Deputy Director Scott Rawlins explained. “Across the state, we will be billions short in funding to build, maintain and operate the roads our state needs over the coming years. We want to ensure that, should the gas tax need to be replaced nationally by another funding source in the future, the State of Nevada is ready with an equitable and proven option that has been thoroughly studied in this state and has been developed cooperatively with the community.”

The study evaluates policy, privacy, technology, administration and equitability aspects of a potential VMT system. The study is currently in the second of three phases.

“We’ve hosted previous workshops and public meetings to discuss the study with the public, and there were important discussions about the need for privacy,” said NDOT VMT study coordinator Alauddin Khan. “In this second study phase, we are applying the feedback we heard from the public and are reviewing a system to take a simple odometer reading at the gas pump. No identifying information about the driver, vehicle, location or time of travel is tracked through the system.”

while reviewing the at-the-pump odometer reading system, phase 2 of the study will also evaluate a periodic payment method for those who do not want to pay at the gas pump. In addition, the study will evaluate the feasibility, administrative structure and policy recommendations for a potential VMT fee system. Locations where study vehicles drive will not be tracked in the study. The final phase of the three-phase study will be a larger pilot study of a potential VMT system.

The public information meeting will be held from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, July 21, at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center at 4590 South Virginia Street in Reno. The public is invited to attend the open-format meeting at any time between 3:30 and 6:30 p.m. to discuss the study and provide comments. Comments can also be made before Aug. 12 online, by email at [email protected] or by mail at VMT study manager Alauddin Khan, 1263 S. Stewart St., Carson City, NV, 89712. Accommodations for the disabled or those with limited English proficiency can be made by contacting (775) 888-7171.