California budget: local entities worried about gas tax |

California budget: local entities worried about gas tax

TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; While the California budget crisis is troubling to local municipalities for many reasons, one thatand#8217;s got counties and towns scared is the threat of the state taking the gas tax.

Counties, cities and towns get a portion of Californiaand#8217;s gasoline tax for road maintenance and improvement projects, but as part of the legislatureand#8217;s attempt to balance a spiraling budget, that funding could be yanked from local hands to the tune of about $1.7 billion state-wide. For Truckee and Nevada and Placer counties, that could be bad news.

and#8220;With the state budget, who knows what weand#8217;re facing, but if they take the gas tax it would be a major concern,and#8221; said Truckee Town Manager Tony Lashbrook.

Placer County would stand to lose $7 million a year the state wouldnand#8217;t pay back, out of a $15 million road maintenance budget, said Placer County Executive Officer Tom Miller.

and#8220;My greatest concern is what I call the theft of the gas tax,and#8221; Miller said when discussing the county budget,and#8221; he said. and#8220;Thatand#8217;s a huge hit to road maintenance and snow removal.and#8221;

Truckee could see about 50 percent of the road budget taken if the gas tax gets redirected by the state, Lashbrook said. Nevada County Director of Public Works Doug Farrell estimates a $3 million loss.

and#8220;Weand#8217;re going to cancel our chip-seal program this year. And some other projects and#8212; like the Hirschdale bridge replacement for example and#8212; will most likely be delayed,and#8221; said Farrell, adding that snow removal shouldnand#8217;t be affected.

Nevada County Supervisor Ted Owens said the potential plan to take gas tax revenue away doesnand#8217;t make sense.

and#8220;Itand#8217;s very difficult, particularly transportation and road maintenance and#8212; in a post Prop 13 era, the gas tax was supposed to help us meet that shortfall,and#8221; Owens said.

But if the state does decide to take that revenue from towns and counties, Lashbrook said litigation and#8212; likely from the California League of Cities and California State Association of Counties and#8212; may follow.

and#8220;Thereand#8217;s no way to budget for the proposed gas tax take, and itand#8217;s potentially illegal,and#8221; Lashbrook said. and#8220;When they start throwing stuff like this there are potentially draconian influences on town services.and#8221;

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