The Brookings City Council will ask voters in May to extend the four-cent per gallon fuel tax for five years to pay for street repair and maintenance.

Since it was approved by voters in 2015, the tax has generated about $290,000 a year and helped repave, seal and repair roads in town, but it sunsets next July.

In its first year, the local tax paid for slide repair on Marine Drive, slope repair on North Bank Chetco River Road, to widen Hemlock Street and resurface Midland Way, Highland Avenue, Crestwood Place, Cameo and View courts, Hassett Street between Third and Fifth streets, Third and Fifth streets between Ransom Avenue and Brooke Lane, Homestead Road, Julie Drive and Moore, Hemlock and Hazel streets.

That year, sidewalks were built along Center and Easy streets, as well.

In 2016 and 2017, the city resurfaced Arnold Lane from Chetco Avenue to Rowland Lane, Fern/Elk Drive to Easy Street, Hemlock Street from Willow to Fern, Center Street from Chetco Avenue to Railroad Street and Hassett Street from Pioneer to Old County roads.

Still to be done this year is resurfacing the Spruce Drive loop, Ransom Avenue from Sixth to Kevin Place and Kevin Place from Hassett to Ransom Avenue.

The council approved that work Monday night, giving the $198,501 bid to Tidewater Construction.

Tax history

The tax was proposed in lieu of Street Replacement Fees on water bills that brought about $130,000 to city road coffers. It was proposed to take the burden off households and more fairly distribute it to include all those who use the roads.

A study addressing the condition of the Brookings’ roads indicated the city would need at least $250,000 a year for the next 10 years just to catch up on needed maintenance.

The council had to guess what rate at which to set the tax because gas station owners wouldn’t tell them how much fuel they sell, citing it as proprietary information. Each cent per gallon generates about $72,500 a year, it has since been determined.

To determine the rate, city officials selected similar cities with gasoline taxes to see what they generate in revenue.

“That was close to a total shot in the dark,” said Mayor Jake Pieper. “We were very limited on the information we had from gas stations, but we came pretty darn close.”

The new proposal, which will be discussed in upcoming meetings, will ask voters on May 18 for a continuation of the 4-cent gas tax for five years and without the $300,000 cap. Only Councilor Roger Thompson said he’d prefer a higher rate.

The city also receives about $90,000 a year from the state for road repair. Other projects have been paid for with grant money.

Councilor Brent Hodges pointed out that fire departments fighting the Chetco Bar Fire have been driving their heavy vehicles all over town, but have been paying the tax when they filled up every day.

“This year, with all the extra traffic we had from the fire, it’s done exactly what we hoped it would,” he said.

Paying for it

In the city’s updated transportation plan, also approved that night, a report lists ways the city can fund more projects, including implementing user fees — typically in a monthly utility bill or vehicle registration.

Other revenue generators could include grants, loans, tax-increment financing and local improvement districts.

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