The West Virginia Highway Department wants to find another way to tax motorists for using the state’s roads.
Currently West Virginians, like motorists in most states, pay a tax on each gallon of gas they buy. In West Virginia it’s 35 cents.
However, state Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox says increased fuel efficiency means gas consumption has leveled off, and so has the revenue necessary to build and maintain the state’s roads.
“You can look back at the last ten years; our revenues remain flat while our costs have increased 30 percent,” Mattox said, “and looking ahead for the next six years at the figures the state Tax Department has provided us it continues to be flat and actually starts declining.”
Wednesday, the Senate Finance Committee approved a bill being pushed by Mattox that calls on the Highway Department to study different ways to generate money for roads. The bill now goes to the Senate floor.
Mattox is particularly interested in a system where motorists are taxed based on the number of miles traveled. The goal would be to tie taxes more closely to usage and raise more money for roads
“That is something that Oregon originated a few years ago” with pilot projects, Mattox said. “That’s something we would like to explore in a little more detail to see if it’s applicable to West Virginia.”
He says there are a couple different ways to monitor miles traveled: inspection stations could record the miles from year to year or a GPS device could be installed in each vehicle.