Washoe County Has Highest Gas Tax In Nevada
The average price for a gallon of gas has gone down in the last several months, but the amount we pay in taxes does not change with the price of oil. Washoe County leads the state with more than 80 cents per gallon, going to the government. Everyone in the country pays a federal excise tax of 18.4 cents per gallon. Nevada charges an additional 23 cents per gallon, but the total taxes vary depending on which county you fill your tank. Douglas, Esmerelda, Eureka, Lincoln, Nye and Storey Counties all charge an additional five cents per gallon. The other 11 counties charge ten cents but Washoe and Clark Counties have an additional tax.
"Right now, the fuel tax in Washoe County, is about 43 cents," Joe Harrington, Regional Transportation Commission spokesman said. "RTC receives about 33 cents of that, with the remainder going to Washoe County, the City of Sparks and the City of Reno."
The average total for federal, state, and local gas tax in the Silver State is 52.25 cents per gallon, but Washoe County pays about 22 cents per gallon more than Clark County's 58 cents. The reason those two counties are higher is because of an Index Fuel Tax. Washoe County voters approved indexing in 2008, allowing the local gas tax to adjust to inflation, every year.
"That makes sure that our purchasing power is not eroded and really gives us the ability to accomplish keeping transportation projects here, in the region," Harrington said.
By law, every cent must be used for roadwork. That could be repairs to current infrastructure or new projects like the 5.5 mile SouthEast Connector. The $270 million project is funded with local gas tax dollars. While neighboring counties pay significantly less tax at the pump, Harrington says Washoe County's tax structure is more sustainable and will allow for more maintenance and new projects as the population grows.
"It is a relatively small cost to pay to make sure that you get to work on time, that you're not sitting in traffic, that your vehicle is not sitting there and idling, that we have great air quality in the region," Harrington said.
While Clark County's index tax was approved two years ago, and that is one of the reasons why they pay much less than Washoe County.
The Nevada Department of Transportation receives the state fuel taxes. While the Truckee Meadows is the second largest urban area in the state, they are third in state road funding behind the Las Vegas metro area and rural Nevada. Harrington says that is because the rurals have so many miles of road to maintain.