Iowa fuel tax may go up for road repairs - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa fuel tax may go up for road repairs

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DUBUQUE COUNTY (KWWL) -

A proposal from Gov. Branstad could mean people in Iowa will pay an extra dime per gallon of gas.

Members of Branstad's Transportation 2020 Citizen Advisory Commission plan on recommending to the Iowa Department of Transportation an additional 8-10 cents per gallon in fuel tax, with the money going to road repair.

When hearing the words, "fuel tax hike," many people might have the same response as Vickie Strub, who filled up her gas tank in Dubuque Thursday afternoon.

"Yeah, I don't want the gas tax. I'm against it," she said. "I fuel up every two weeks, when I get paid, and sometimes I have to fuel up again. It's a lot of money, you know, when you're paying $100 every two weeks, sometimes up to that much."

On the other hand, Iowa roads need work, as the Western Dubuque Community School District's Transportation Director Bob Hingtgen knows all too well.

"Between bridges and roads that are just in disrepair, there's a lot of areas that need attention," he said. "We run about 4,500 route miles a day, so we like to equate that to driving from New York to San Francisco and back to Iowa is right about that same number."

District Superintendent Jeff Corkery said the district is roughly half the size of Rhode Island.

"Western Dubuque is the largest geographic school district in the state of Iowa," Corkery said. "Over 550 square miles."

As the largest district's superintendent, Corkery is on the Citizens Advisory Commission (CAC).

"We needed to come up with ways to address the $27 billion shortage that was projected over the next 20 years," he said.

It's a shortage that would mean Iowa's roads could fall into disrepair, so the CAC plans to recommend a gas tax hike of as much as 10 cents per gallon, as well as a one percent increase in new vehicle registration fees.

"That'd bring the vehicle registration fees in line with the statewide sales tax there, so, yes, those are the two probably major recommendations," Corkery said.

The money, he said, would have to be spent taking care of Iowa's roads and bridges.

"Those are constitutionally protected," he said. "Too, we have not had a gas tax increase in over 25 years. We are on the lower end of all the states that surround us."

Iowa last raised its gas tax in 1989, and it now stands at $0.22 a gallon for motor gasoline, $0.235 a gallon for diesel fuel and $0.20 for gasohol.

The CAC held seven public input meetings.

Members will present their findings and recommendations in November to the Iowa Department of Transportation.

The final report goes to Iowa legislators at the end of this year.

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