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DOT reports loss in tax revenue

Posted August 6, 2008
Updated October 17, 2011

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— High gasoline prices and a decrease in car sales are the reasons revenues from the state's gasoline tax and highway usage tax are down a combined total of $66 million from a year ago, the state Department of Transportation reported Wednesday.

Funding from the gas tax revenues is down 1.5 percent, about $24 million; funding from the highway usage tax, which comes from vehicle sales, is down 7 percent, or $42 million, the DOT's chief financial officer, Mark Foster, said.

"This is the first time in several years that our state revenues have not exceeded the prior year," Foster said.

Because both taxes are major sources of revenue for road maintenance and new construction projects, Foster said prioritizing projects is critical.

For example, thousands of the state's bridges have already exceeded their expected lifespan.

"Our average bridge costs $2 million; $60 million is 30 replacement bridges," he said. "That's significant to the state."

The DOT's budget is also taking a hit from inflation, also because of gasoline prices. In the past year, the department has spent 20 percent more on gas, nearly $25 million than the previous year. And that figure is expected to be higher this year.

Construction costs, primarily for asphalt, concrete and steel, is also up 80 percent over the past five years.

"I think the message to drivers and citizens is we will continue to look out for your scarce dollars, but we may be asking for more dollars in the future to make sure your safety is not affected," Foster said.

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  • Dr. Dataclerk Aug 7, 2008

    DOT needs to start mowing the grass on the side of the highway/road and not depend on contractors. It blurs ones vision when we are trying to see around the bend.

  • NeverSurrender Aug 7, 2008

    "DOT needs to use Jetta Diesels. 42/51MPG. 600-800 miles per fill up on 14 gallons. Of course if they mandated anyone who use a government car drive a MANUAL TRANSMISSION that alone would help too."

    ---

    I don't know that insisting on manual transmissions would lead to much saving at all. In my experience, automatic transmissions are much more reliable due to a lot less moving parts in the system (no clutch pedal/cables to break and a lot less opportunity to do something stupid to the transmission).

  • saltnsanddefenderofdamiddleclass Aug 7, 2008

    You know, we could start a real firestorm here and suggest cutting teacher pay to pay for roads. Haha. Anyway, this is a great story because it proves without a doubt two points. The first is government will never do with less. You better hope people keep smoking and drinking or it's going to get real ugly. The second is that this holier than thou attitude some have towards forcing everyone to "conserve" is just wrong. We've already seen it with water and now oil. I don't see this in the story but a good follow up would be for an enterprising reporting to track the funds that are supposed to be strictly highway funds and see where they go. Are they actually going for roads or are they diverted to "free at three" "more at four" or medicaid? Maybe it's time for the governor to go to Europe and do some factfinding on roads.

  • short Aug 7, 2008

    How about reducing the manpower from 8 to 5 when a pothole is required to be filled. That should help reduce costs. It always appears that 1-2 workers are filling in the hole...while 4-5 are watching.

  • streetfightinman Aug 7, 2008

    I think I've located the hole in the Dot ship
    it was caused by the governor it's called
    not caring about the budget, overspending

  • jockeyshiftspringer Aug 7, 2008

    SheriffTruman said: "It is not a free ride folks. If you deny the funding to build roads,..."

    I personally don't deny the funding to build the roads, bridges, or highways. It makes me angry that we shell out all this money in taxes, build up a surplus then Sleazly robs the Highway fund and moves the money to the General fund. Guess what? Now they start complaining that they have no capital to build and repair stuff. What happens? Lets raise taxes. Am I happy about this? No!

    Bendal1 said: "want to wait until we get a bridge collapse like Minnesota did?"

    Yes, someone will have to die before any work gets done. Sad but true.

  • Bendal1 Aug 7, 2008

    1) Roads are damaged by trucks, not cars. Every commuter could stop going to work and the roads would STILL get worn out by the trucks. Road damage caused by cars is tiny compared to trucks.

    2) Due to safety and inspection requirements, yes, there are often people "standing around" at a work site. Many of them are waiting on someone to finish their work so THEY can get started; others are inspecting or monitoring the work. Often the engineers go to the site to see how things are progressing.

    3) Roads aren't gold-plated. What's needed is built, but they are designed for the future, not right now. A road might look overbuilt now but 20 years from now it will all be needed. There's little waste in a highway design that can be cut to "do more with less money".

    4) Costs have gone up, revenue is way down, while demand for more work continues. Something has to give; want to wait until we get a bridge collapse like Minnesota did?

  • killerkestrel Aug 7, 2008

    NC may have the highest gas tax in the SE, but it also has a low car sales tax. Also, many states use property/income tax to help fund roads. NC doesn't.

    NCDOT has been talking about the shortfall for YEARS. It's just that it has gotten much larger over the last 4 because construction costs have doubled while revenues have barely increased.

    Yes, there is a little less traffic, but we still have bridges falling apart, many roads over capacity, and people always asking for some improvement.

    And most of the waste I've seen is from the politicians/people asking for another turn lane to nowhere. Sure folks make mistakes. It happens in business all the time, but people rather talk about NCDOT.

    Stop driving SUV's. But what if you need a SUV to get the job done? How much waste would there be if you are constantly pulling vehicles out when they get stuck?

  • SheriffTruman Aug 7, 2008

    This is so funny. So much misinformation in this thread.

    The Gas tax used to move with the price of gas, but they froze it a while back due to increasing costs at the pump.

    Contractors did not screw up teh I-40 job. They did what the contract documents said to do and someone made a mistake at DOT that did happen to be on a key part of the project, but it was still a mistake. You ever make a mistake or is everyone here perfect?

    I am tempeted to write everyone's names down who are complaining about this and see if you ever complain about traffic again. It is not a free ride folks. If you deny the funding to build roads, then don't complain on that long drive from the boondocks when it is stop and go.

    Now, I'll agree the DOT has plenty of waste, especially in the top levels. That should be addressed, but you still have to give them the money to build the roads everyone seems to want.

  • m0nky Aug 7, 2008

    Real Deal Tar Heel, i think you should be a bit more informed before you bash things like that.

    Trucks do the majority of damage to roads. Roads are designed with the loading from trucks in mind. The wear and tear from cars is minimal. And trucking isn't going anywhere or letting up any time soon.

    As for the people standing around, those are usually inspectors or the on site engineer making sure that things are being done according to the plans (usually). Not saying theres not lazy folk out there working. that happens in almost any work environment.

    what i do agree with you on though is that mass transit needs to seriously be considered. But busses damage the road about as much as trucks. so upkeep costs would still be an issue if that form of mass transit was considered. a light rail system or something of that nature would be a vast improvement, though.

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