Road departments impacted by low gas tax

Gas prices just hit a six-year low according to AAA. Most of us see that as great news, but there is a down side. Kentucky’s gas tax also fell, by 4.3 cents a gallon at the beginning of the month.

That cut local road crews budgets in half and it’s left counties struggling with a large revenue loss.

Calloway County Road Department Director, Ricky Edwards says he and his crew will have to do more with less. Edwards’ department maintains all the roads in Calloway County, but says he’s anticipating the cuts, “We won’t be able to do the maintenance that needs to be done as we have in the past.”

It’s the topic of discussion on Tuesday’s schedule for Calloway County Judge Executive Larry Elkins and the fiscal court. The gasoline taxes serve as a primary source of revenue for the road department in the county’s budget. And with more than 700 miles of road in the County, Elkins says they weren’t anticipating the large cut in funding, “It’s not a death blow to our road fund but it will require some adjustments to what we had planned to spend.”

Lesser used roads, both secondary and tertiary roads, will go unattended and smaller projects like filling potholes may go without any attention at all. Edwards says that’s only so much that can be done in a day’s time. And although customers may enjoy paying for less at the bump, this could mean more deteriorating roads in the future.

The Kentucky gasoline tax is adjusted every three months based on the average price of gas, and with lowering gas prices, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is anticipating another drop in April. They estimate this drop to be another 5.1 cent drop on top of the 4.3 drop this month.

It’s easier per Kentucky state law to drop the gas tax, but tougher to raise, and those with the Transportation Cabinet says it could take upwards of 10 years until the road budget is restored to 2014 levels.

The Calloway County Fiscal Court is meeting Tuesday night. They will not make a decision, but they will discuss how to adjust the budget.

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