Commissioners to decide how to spend gas tax money

May 20, 2017

By Shannon Hall

With Vanderburgh County possibly receiving $3 to 4 million in 2018 from the state gas tax, county commissioners face a task to compile a list of necessary fixes.

The Indiana legislature passed a gas tax increase that takes effect July 1. The bill will increase the gas tax to 28 cents per gallon, and local governments will receive a chunk of the revenue.

The money collected must fund roads, bridges or maintenance equipment for roads or bridges, according to Vanderburgh County Commission President Bruce Ungethiem.

He said commissioners plan to pick roads in the worst conditions.

“This will be a joint effort between the County engineer, the county Garage Superintendent and the commissioners,” Ungethiem said.

The county is required to inspect bridges every two years. A consultant will look at each of the county’s 157 bridges and examine the type of bridge and the age. According to the consulting report from this year, three bridges in the county are eligible for replacement.

Roads are a little different.

County Engineer John Stoll said his department usually hears about road conditions from the public, the county highway department superintendents, and county engineer.

“We make a list of what we get plus what we find, and we prioritize things on the basis what’s the worst and what needs to get done,” Stoll said.

The $3 to $4 million is still an estimate of how much Vanderburgh County will receive, and it’s unclear when the county will start receiving the money, but it’s more than what the county engineer usually receives.

“We’re usually limited by what the revenues come in,” he said.

Stoll said the engineering department and the highway department receive about a combined $1 million for road maintenance.

“If we get revenues like that, then that would actually allow the county to pursue some reconstruction projects that haven’t been able to be done in the past, which that will be a good thing,” Stoll said. “We have plenty of need for substandard roads to get totally rebuilt.”

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