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Four-cent gas tax for road repairs

The Brookings City Council will discuss a resolution to place a 4-cent-per-gallon fuel tax on the May 19, 2015 ballot during its regular 7 p.m. meeting on Monday.

The proposal was crafted to generate funds for road repair and improvements throughout town as the current method — a Street System Replacement Fee (SRF) that shows up on water and sewer bills — isn’t generating enough money to keep up with the city’s needs.

Under the terms of the resolution, any tax approved by voters would be adjusted, to a maximum of 4 cents per gallon, to garner up to $300,000. The first year of the tax, too, will provide city officials with much-needed information regarding fuel consumption in the city.

To generate $300,000 a year from a gasoline tax, the three gas stations in Brookings would have to sell 10 million gallons a year.

No one, not even at the state level — knows how much gas is currently sold at the gas stations.

That fact boggles the minds of city officials who have unsuccessfully attempted to find that out.

They have asked employees at Fred Meyer and officials at the state — who collect an 49.5-cent gasoline tax — and all say they have no idea how much gasoline is sold here.

If voters reject the proposal in May, however, the SRF would have to be doubled, to $5.96 a month, to meet the $300,000 goal.

Councilor Kelly McClain has repeatedly noted that the SRF collected today is more than what the average driver would incur in a gasoline tax. Residents who pay water and sewer bills pay about $36 a year toward road maintenance.

City officials also hope to tap into the pocketbooks of tourists — particularly those from northern California who drive here specifically to stockpile gasoline. Prices in Crescent City are typically about 50 cents per gallon more than those in Brookings, 25 miles away. California has a 71.3-cent per gallon fuel tax.

The resolution also notes that all revenue generated from a fuel tax can only be used for construction, replacement, improvements, repair, maintenance and operations of streets within the city limits, the proposed resolution reads. The tax would sunset in three years, as well, giving city officials time to determine if it generates enough money for road improvements and drivers time to see if they believe it’s beneficial.

Other issues

•The city council will also consider sending a written request to county commissioners asking for financial assistance to repair a slide on North Bank Chetco River Road. The city is also addressing a second slide on Marine Drive, up the hill from Old County Road.

Mayor Ron Hedenskog last month contacted then-Roadmaster Dan Crumley to see if the county might be able to help with the repairs. Crumley, who is now retired, said in July that, while his department has a reserve fund of about $36 million, the primary fund has been depleted and the county is unable to help.

“The source of that money is reportedly the proceeds of timber harvest taxes that are remitted to the county for maintenance of roads that are essential to timber operations on federal lands,” Milliman noted in his report. “North Bank Chetco River Road is one such road.”

The new roadmaster, Doug Robbins, said last week the county might be able to provide manpower, but not money.

The repairs on both slides are expected to cost $200,000, and the city only collects about $121,000 in road-maintenance fees on water bills each year and gets an additional $80,000 from the state.

*The city will also discuss the feasibility of taking over ownership and responsibility of a carousel Brookings resident Bud Halliday hopes to place in Azalea Park.

Halliday has been working to drum up enthusiasm for such an amenity, and recently obtained non-profit status so he can begin collecting funds to purchase a carousel. He proposes an “ocean-critter” theme, and believes it would attract tourists and pay for its purchase price in a couple of years.

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The Brookings City Council meets the second and third Mondays at 7 p.m. at City Hall on Elk Drive. Work sessions are held the first Monday of each month.

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