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DOT chief: Gas tax doesn't work

Posted January 30, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

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— Newly appointed North Carolina Transportation Secretary Gene Conti says his greatest challenge will be dealing with the current financial crisis at the state agency, which in recent months has been forced to postpone more than 75 percent of its planned projects.

The much needed federal stimulus package will get people to work on projects that are long overdue, he said.

Gene Conti Web only: New DOT chief on transit, taxes and more

The department has also been dogged by perceptions of patronage and inefficiency. An outside consultant issued a scathing report in 2007 that said the agency lacks priorities and accountability, resulting in project delays and low employee morale.

Conti said his mission is to put systems in place to prevent mistakes – like the $20 million repaving of Interstate 40 and recent paving problems on Interstate 795 that could cost the state up to $22 million.

“When we do make mistakes, we’ll be very direct and forthright with the public about what happened, why it happened, who is responsible, whether there’s any action that needs to be taken to hold people accountable for what they’ve done,” Conti told WRAL News on Friday.

Conti also said that relying on the gas tax simply does not work. In the long term, he said, he sees North Carolina adopting a fee that charges drivers based on how many miles they travel.

Gov. Beverly Perdue appointed Conti to the position earlier this month. He was the regional manager of PBS&J, an infrastructure planning, engineering and construction management firm.

He also served as vice chairman of the Global TransPark's Board of Directors, previously was the DOT's chief deputy secretary and assistant secretary for transportation policy with the U.S. Department of Transportation.


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  • skinnyCat Feb 5, 2009

    Once they put the GPS chip in the car, your speeding ticket will come along with the mileage tax. They can charge you more to drive when the roads are congested, or if you exceed so many miles per day. There is no end to the creative ways to extract a buck. At 0.14 per mile fee, if you get 30 miles per gallon then the fee works out to $4.20/gallon. Think about that because that is what they want the toll to be out on 540. When he says the fuel tax doesn't work, he means people wont pay another $4.20/gallon on top of our already high fuel tax.

  • TDF Feb 2, 2009

    I just wanted to add my voice to the chorus saying "this is a bad idea." I know this is a tough time for everyone, including the state government, but fees and taxes aren't the answer. Reducing and eliminating waste should be the first step, followed by cutting costs. Any plan such as the one proposed, to be effective, would have to be a serious invasion of personal privacy.

  • superman Feb 2, 2009

    You pay for the tax for the miles you travel when you purchase the gas. The more gas you purchasse -- the more you pay. So whats the problem? I pay the gas tax when I use the gas for my riding mower and it has never been used on the highway to take me to work. The two streets in our subdivision are over 35 years old and they have never been resurfaced. When they had money -- they didnt have money! I hope they dont get a dime. A petition from all the neighbors to the DOT was useless. Our two streets were so bad that two years ago they spent the better part of 3 days repairing the potholes. The two streets together are about 1/2 mile. I guess no one in our neighborhood has any political connections.

  • oldfirehorse Feb 2, 2009

    Let's see, sounds straight forward. Land of the free!

  • NCPictures Feb 2, 2009

    How about staying within your budget? Oh guess that didnt even hit the radar screen. sheeeesh They ALL need to GO!

  • JuanGrande v3.0 Feb 2, 2009

    Remember a few years ago when we had money in the Highway Fund before Easley blew it all on other, non-highway projects?

  • NeverSurrender Feb 2, 2009

    "wcnc - oh this new fee will be on top of the gas tax. My guess on the mileage questions is, when you get an inspection they record the miles, the next time you get inspected they record the miles and that is the fee you pay. Should they pursue this, it should be challenged as unconstitutional. Nothing says you drove the miles solely in N.C."


    At the same time they'll discover how quickly an underground industry for resetting odometers would form if they relied on the inspection-to-inspection route.

    No, it'd be a mandated transponder that would be bolted on at next inspection. Not only could they use it to track your movements but they could also use it as a way of removing inconvenience as a reason for opposing toll roads...all they'd need to do is re-purpose the transponder to be ezPass-compatible.

    Then watch the toll booths go up at breakneck pace.

    At some point, one wonders why they bother leaving any of our pay packet in our hands...your tax = your income. :(

  • cmrvrr1 Jan 30, 2009

    How does Va do there taxes?The gas is cheaper and the roads I travel on there are better and cleaner.Maybe we to look there

  • GoGreen Jan 30, 2009

    Apparently Oregon is moving this way. It could be a national trend. I will have to admit that it would be a fairer method of taxation but I just think it would be rife with problems.

    The basic idea is to put a GPS chip in every vehicle. The Oregon model is to have the car communicate with the gas pump so you automagically pay the tax at fill-up. Out of state vehicles would just pay the standard gas tax whilst filling up in NC. Miles traveled out of state would be tax free (to NC)!

    Of course if you have an electric car...

    The problems arise because I think it would be possible to fool the system. The link between the car and the gas pump would be wireless ... a prime target for hacking. Who knows, maybe you could drive negative miles and get your gas for free!!!

    Personally, the big brother aspect bothers me. The gvmt keeping track of where I drive. Unfortunately toll roads are the answer. Hey, that would create jobs!

  • thewayitis Jan 30, 2009

    This guy needs to go. No new taxes! Sheesh!