Well, maybe it's not a good thing, but it is needed. Monday morning the Clayton County Corn Growers met with the county supervisors and engineer to discuss the state of our county roads.
Here are the facts:
Clayton County is responsible for 1100 miles of roads -
200 miles paved
900 miles crushed rock
Clayton County has 256 bridges
Most were built in the 1930's and 40's and are 16 to 20 feet wide
10% of the bridges are in Critical need of replacement
30% of the bridges need to be replaced
Clayton County's 2012 FY road budget is $7.6 million
This has not changed drastically in 10 years
Clayton County is very similar to every other rural county so I'm sure the above info could apply to 75% of the counties in Iowa.
Our county road department personnel are doing their best to keep up the roads. However, the dollars available are not enough to improve the roads to bring them up to 2012 vehicle standards. Last week during the warm weather frost started to come out of the roads. This caused the roads to become soft, spongy, full of holes, and dangerous. Last week, in Clayton County, there were Class A roads that were impassable with cars.
Right now in the Iowa state legislature there is a bill (SF 2224/HSB 547) to increase the fuel tax. To anyone who has driven down a rural gravel road in Iowa this past week this is most likely a no brainer. But, here is some more information for you to consider.
The Senate proposal (SF 2224) would increase the state fuel tax by five cents in January 2013 and five cents in January 2014. The House version (HSB 547) would increase the fuel tax by four cents in May 2013 and four cents in May 2014. This would add $600,000 to $700,000 to Clayton County's road budget when fully implemented. (I'm sure it would be similar for other Iowa counties) It takes almost $300,000 to resurface 1 mile of two lane road.
The road use tax fund is a constitutionally protected fund. The fuel taxes will be used only on our roads so the public know the money collected will go only toward the intended purpose.
The fuel tax is the only source of revenue available that is contributed to by people who do not live in Iowa, but use our roads. This acts as a "user fee." About 13% of the state's road use tax fund money comes from the fuel taxes paid by out-of-state drivers.
Contrary to popular belief farmers do pay fuel taxes. A farm vehicle license plate is not a license to be tax free.
These proposed bills would not only improve our infrasture in Iowa but also add jobs to our state!
Thank you to the Iowa Good Roads Association for some interesting and eye opening statistics and the Clayton County Supervisors for your insight.