Missouri has one of the lowest tax rates on fuel in the U.S., but that could change soon. MoDOT said if they could collect more fuel taxes they could fund projects to start to fix the roads.
Donnettea Johnson drives from New London, Missouri to Hannibal regularly, and is familiar with North East Missouri roads.
"I think the cleanliness of them could use some better work, I don’t think they do such a hot job," said Johnson.
And soon, she and many other Missouri drivers could be spending more at the pump.
A new proposed tax would increase fuel costs of ten cents a gallon over the course of four years. But according to MoDOT officials, there’s lots of different projects that could benefit drivers coming from the tax increase
They have a binder full of potential projects that they plan to fund. Improvements like rumble strips and resurfacing projects, all things that they say are important to Missouri drivers.
"We have an ongoing planning process that we’ve used for nearly 20 years, it’s a nationally recognized planning process that we use all over the state," said District Engineer Paula Gough, the planning process includes 3 regional planning commissions in the Tri-States that help MoDOT determine what needs to be worked on, "some of the types of projects we’ve talked about with them are taking care of the system needs, so those are the types of projects that we see ongoing right now."
But the money doesn’t just go to the state, counties get part of the tax as well. Marion County Presiding Commissioner Lyndon Bode said there are several projects in need of funding around the county, and while commissioners don’t know exactly where they would use the money, they say it would help.
"Now the time has come for the people of Missouri to decide– do we want better roads or not," said Bode, "it’s not going to be a huge impact but it will make a difference. When you talk about a fuel tax, the people who are using it will be paying for it."
Bode also said that travelers through Missouri and people crossing state lines will also have to pay their share when fueling up, instead of the whole burden falling on the taxpayers.
For Johnson, she just hopes that if the taxes are increased, she sees changes.
"I mean if it would help improve the roads, if that was actually what the tax went to," said Johnson.
MoDOT officials said that the specific projects that they plan to fund with the tax increase will be discussed over the next few months, leaving it up to voters to decide if the extra ten cents will be worth it this November 8th.
If approved, the 10 cent per gallon hike would phase in over four years starting on July, 1st, 2019. The Secretary of State’s office estimates it will generate $288 million dollars annually to fund law enforcement, $123 million for local governments for roadwork. It would also create an emergency fund to help finance state road improvement projects.