One week to go?
Things are winding down but ratcheting up. This past week has seen a lot of wheeling and dealing with the budget, revenue estimates, and last minute funding bills. House Bill 2, which pays the bills passed this past week as well as HB 473, the gas tax. Both bills were changed somewhat in the last two weeks in order to advance and be passed.
House Bill 473 is the Bridge and Road Safety and Accountability Act. This bill requires an accountability audit of the Department of Transportation, a website to show projects and costs, and allows for funds to be spent on roads and bridges for the state,cities, and counties. The final version of the bill is 4 ½ cents on the gas tax and 1 ½ cents on the diesel tax. Of these funds, within a year from now, Mineral County will receive an increase of $81,500 and Sanders County an approximate increase of $125,000 to their road funds. With the declining or threat of loss of Secure Rural Schools funds, this will help bail the counties out. This first year increase will go up even more in the subsequent years. Also receiving funds from this act will be the incorporated towns in our counties. Superior will receive an increase of $20,000 the first year and about $4000 added to that each following year. Alberton will receive $8600 increase the first year and a $3,000 increase in subsequent years. With the street problems Plains has had and a shortfall to even patch roads after water line leaks, the added $20,000 that will come in next March should help that, especially knowing this will go up to $24,000 in 2019. Main street in Hots Springs may get helped with the $15,000 they should expect to receive in 2018 and a $3000 increase above that in 2019. Thompson Falls should see a $31000 increase to there street fund in the year 2018 for street projects. These are the examples of the expected revenues and where the locals can expect to see a direct positive result in addition to state highway projects that have been set back in time due to lack of funds. Earlier in session it was thought that there was money found elswhere and the gas tax was not needed but this was a short term fix and thought to not solve the problems for the long range.
We are expecting to finish our session this week but there is always uncertainty in that. I think we are all ready to go home but we have to be sure the work is done first. I know I am ready to go home and do some farming. I am sorry I have not been able to answer all emails but I will try to keep you posted through these letters.
— Rep. Denley Loge