More funding needed for our roads
Can you wait 200 years to have your roadway reconstructed again? Nobles County currently can only afford to reconstruct the road system once every 200 years. Unfortunately, roadways do not last that long and need to be rebuilt much sooner. But th...
Can you wait 200 years to have your roadway reconstructed again? Nobles County currently can only afford to reconstruct the road system once every 200 years. Unfortunately, roadways do not last that long and need to be rebuilt much sooner. But this is how long it will take to reconstruct the County Road System with the current level of funding.
With the last major increase in state funding for local roads coming from the last gas tax increase in 1988, Nobles County may be forced to fund more of our infrastructure costs using property tax dollars to get road construction done sooner. With almost all types of material and construction costs increasing yearly without a corresponding revenue increase, the county will need to choose between relying on property tax dollars or making choices that could both jeopardize the safety of the people using our transportation system and handcuff a rural economy that relies on infrastructure to transport its goods to market. Without an increased use of property tax revenue the county could be forced to look at options like turning paved roads to gravel, cutting snowplows or plow hours, posting load limits on more blacktop roads or skipping things like pavement maintenance that affects safety.
Our rural economy needs roads that are 10-ton routes if we hope to maintain and build on our agricultural base. So, while we should be both adding additional 10-ton routes and improving the aging roadways, in reality we have had to struggle to keep from going the opposite direction and having to post more blacktop roads down to lower weight limits.
As taxpayers, we are going to have to pay for our infrastructure one way or the other, so the question is how would we rather pay for it? A Highway User Fund exists that dedicates money towards transportation and divides it so that counties, cities, townships and MnDOT all get a portion. The largest portion of this fund comes from gas tax revenue. Does it make more sense to increase the gas tax, which hasn't been increased since 1988 and allows the people who use the roads the most and thus burn the most fuel to pay accordingly, or would we rather continue down the road of paying by increasing property taxes and borrowing from our future?
This year, as in past years, both a gas tax increase and property tax relief are popular topics at the Capital. I hope everyone realizes that one of these topics (a gas tax increase) could go a long way towards helping the other issue (property tax relief). So while no one favors paying more at the pump, I hope everyone understands the results if we don't. I encourage the people who represent us in St. Paul to think about it when it comes time to vote on transportation funding.