By Steve Peterson
Plymouth County supervisors approved a resolution of support of an Iowa Association of County Supervisors (IACS) position regarding change of the Road Use Tax Fund (RUT) revenue source for road improvements.
Supervisors unanimously approved the resolution Feb. 18.
“The IACS recognizes that a high quality transportation system serves as the artery for economic activity and that the condition of the infrastructure in the State of Iowa is a key element for our future economic growth;
“An integral part of the State of Iowa’s RUT Fund is the fuel tax, which has not been significantly increased since 1989, while maintenance and construction costs have more than doubled in that same time frame.
“There have been several statewide studies completed over the last 10 years identifying the requirement to significantly increase the amount of funding for the administration, maintenance, and improvements to our state-wide public roadway system, including the 2006 RUT Fund study called for by former Governor Chet Culver; the 2011 RUT Fund study competed per 2011 Iowa Code Section 308.31; and the 2011 Governor’s Transportation 2020 Citizen Advisory Commission created by Gov. Terry Branstad.
“The 2008 TIME-21 Study documented the fact that under today’s funding structure and highway usage, over 20 percent of the travel in Iowa is done by out-of-state travelers while only 13 percent of the state’s road use revenues come from out-of-state drivers; and
“The funding provided by implementation of the TIME-21 Fund in 2009 is inadequate to meet the critical maintenance and improvement needs for the State of Iowa’s transportation system; and
“That 95 percent of RUT Fund revenues are required by the Iowa Constitution to be spent only on our roadways; and
“Due to the severe shortage of in-state funding to meet the critical needs of our roadway system, several Iowa counties have had to resort to issuing almost $100 million in bonds to pay for their most critical maintenance needs, which have to be paid off through property taxes; and
“The 2011 Governor’s Transportation 2020 Citizen Advisory Council report to Gov. Branstad and the Iowa Legislature identified the need for $215 million per year of increased funding over the next 20 years, in addition to the funding provided by the TIME-21 revenues, just to meet the most critical needs of our transportation infrastructure; and
“The Iowa Roads Association, the Iowa County Engineer’s Association and numerous business related associations have publicly supported the call for increased RUT Fund funding.”
“The ISAC encourages implementation of the 2011 Citizen’s Advisory Council’s recommendations to do the following:
• “Increase the state fuel tax rates across the board by 10 cents, over a period of no less than three years, resulting in an estimated $184 million to $230 million of additional revenue;
• Increase the “Fee for new registration” from five to six percent, raising this fee to a level consistent with the state sales tax, resulting in an estimated $50 million in additional revenue; and
• Allocate new funding to go to the TIME-21 Fund up to the cap, $225 million, and the remaining new funding should be distributed consistent with the RUT Fund distribution formula.”