Hit A Pothole? It's Gonna Cost You - One Way Or Another

Mar 29 2014, 8:40pm CDT | by

Hit A Pothole? It's Gonna Cost You - One Way Or Another
Photo Credit: Forbes Business

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, a pothole is “a bowl-shaped depression in the pavement surface.”

Those aren’t exactly the words that drivers where I live are using to describe them. Those words, I can’t post.

After one of the snowiest, coldest winters on record in parts of the country, it’s a relief to see the snow melt. But all of that melting and changes in temperature have left us with another headache: potholes. Lots of them.

Angel Taveras, the mayor of Providence, has lamented, “[t]he potholes that have resulted from this year’s severe winter weather are the worst that I can recall in many years.” He’s not alone.

Americans have been complaining about potholes from coast to coast. As the complaints pile up, the fix isn’t always as fast as anticipated. In some places, residents are so unhappy about the state of the roads that they’re fixing the potholes themselves. One resident took it to heart in Ann Arbor, Michigan, prompting the city to release a statement asking others not to follow suit:

Ann Arbor residents love their city so much that when they see a problem, they want to get out and do something about it. It is admirable that someone took the time and effort to fill a pothole, but we strongly recommend against doing it.

If volunteers aren’t filling potholes, then roads crews are… and that costs money. As road crews patch, fill and sometimes even fall into a record number of potholes, government leaders are scrambling for ways to pay them.

In Colorado Springs, Mayor Steve Bach is asking for $2 million in emergency money to fill potholes.

In Minnesota, lawmakers are seeking an additional $15 million ($10 million for state highways and $5 million for city and county roads) to resolve damage from potholes.

And after declaring last week, “Pothole Week,” Stamford Mayor David Martin announced that he would seek an additional $2 million to pave roads.

Additional funds are also being sought in New York State, Philadelphia and Los Angeles.

But money doesn’t grow on trees. Or in sinkholes. Where are politicians going to find those extra funds? Across the country, the answer appears to be tax increases.

Of course, there is no “one size fits all (potholes)” answer. One Minnesota proposal calls for new sales taxes on wholesale fuels while in Olean, New York, property taxes may be on the rise. Los Angeles is considering a “half-cent sales tax hike… to pay for repairs of the worst streets and sidewalks.” Grand Rapids, Michigan, Mayor George Heartwell is hoping that voters will support a city income tax for streets on the ballot this spring. And in Montgomery County, Maryland, a “pothole tax” has even become an election issue.

Some, however, wonder if the burden should fall to local governments to patch up our roads – or if maybe it should be the federal government’s problem to fix. Three funding proposals have garnered interest among taxpayers although how they would raise revenue are very different:

  • In December of 2013, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) announced a proposal, H.R. 3636, also called The Update, Promote, and Develop America’s Transportation Essentials (UPDATE) Act, that would phase in a 15 cent/gallon tax increase over the next three years on gasoline and diesel. With the proposal, the federal tax would increase to 33.4 cents per gallon on gas and to 42.8 cents per gallon on diesel. That bill currently sits in the House Committee on Ways and Means.
  • Getting a bit more chatter is the tax reform package put forth by Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI). Under Camp’s proposal, $126.5 billion would be set aside to fund federal transportation projects, an amount which would “fully fund highway and infrastructure investment through the [Highway Trust Fund] for eight years.”
  • Camp’s proposal is a much slimmer version of President Obama’s budget proposal. President Obama’s plan would, through a combination of corporate tax reform and a tax on offshore corporate profits, raise $150 billion in revenue to be used on roads and infrastructure improvements (you may recall that infrastructure improvements were also a key message in President Obama’s State of the Union address earlier this year).

It’s clear that, no matter which road we go down, the nation’s potholes are going to need a fix. The real question is where the money will come from to fill those holes.

Want more taxgirl goodness? Pick your poison: receive posts by email, follow me on twitter (@taxgirl), hang out with me on Facebook or check out my YouTube channel. If you want to keep an eye on documents I’ve posted, check out my profile on Scribd. And finally, you can subscribe to my podcast on the site or via iTunes (it’s free).

Source: Forbes Business

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Bangladesh pushes for working South Asian free trade deal
Kathmandu, Nov 26 (IANS) Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wednesday called for implementing the free trade agreement (FTA) that the Saarc nations signed nearly a decade ago.
 
 
NASA floats airship challenge idea
Washington, Nov 26 (IANS) The US space agency NASA is planning to kickstart a challenge for developing airships that can break records in terms of duration of flight at high altitudes.
 
 
OPEC daily basket price closes lower
Vienna, Nov 26 (IANS/WAM) The basket of 12 crude oils of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) closed over a dollar lower at $74.28 a barrel Tuesday compared to $75.70 Monday, the OPEC Secretariat said.
 
 
Early deafness diagnosis improves teenagers' reading skills
London, Nov 26 (IANS) Early detection of deafness in babies is linked to better reading skills later in their lives, says a new research.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

86 protesters arrested in Hong Kong
Hong Kong, Nov 26 (IANS/EFE) At least 86 people were arrested and over a dozen injured in Hong Kong Wednesday in clashes between the police and pro-democracy protesters during the clearing of a protest site in Mong Kok...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Mexico plans policy changes to stem violence, graft
Mexico City, Nov 26 (IANS/EFE) The Mexican government plans to rework its internal security policy to check the violence and corruption that prevails after 43 students in police custody went missing, outraging the...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
NASA floats airship challenge idea
Washington, Nov 26 (IANS) The US space agency NASA is planning to kickstart a challenge for developing airships that can break records in terms of duration of flight at high altitudes. The idea behind the "20-20-20...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Benedict Cumberbatch disappointed to miss McGrath
Benedict Cumberbatch says it was a ''tragedy'' to not record 'Penguins of Madagascar' with Tom McGrath. The 38-year-old actor couldn't work opposite his co-star Tom due to their conflicting schedules, which forced them...
Read more on Movie Balla
 
Ridley Scott won't direct Blade Runner sequel
Ridley Scott won't be directing the 'Blade Runner' sequel. The 76-year-old director - who helmed the original sci-fi thriller in 1982 - has confessed he will not be returning to the director's chair for the follow up...
Read more on Movie Balla
 
OPEC daily basket price closes lower
Vienna, Nov 26 (IANS/WAM) The basket of 12 crude oils of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) closed over a dollar lower at $74.28 a barrel Tuesday compared to $75.70 Monday, the OPEC Secretariat...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Two JMB activists awarded death sentence in Bangladesh
Dhaka, Nov 26 (IANS) A court in Dhaka sentenced two activists of the militant Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) to death Wednesday, for shooting dead a police informant during a search operation nearly eight years...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Tough competition in 2015 Copa America: Uruguay FA president
Montevideo, Nov 26 (IANS) The 2015 Copa America championship, to be held in Chile next summer, is gearing up to be a tough tournament to win, Uruguay's top football official has said. According to the president of the...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Bayern dominated despite being down to 10: Guardiola
Manchester, Nov 26 (IANS) Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola said that his team dominated the game despite being down to 10 in the Champions League match against England's Manchester City. "Even though we lost, I am...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
We made mistakes: Bayern's Dante
Manchester, Nov 26 (IANS) Bayern Munich defender Dante believes that Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero is a great player but Bayern should blame the Champions League loss on themselves. Bayern lost 2-3 to...
Read more on Sport Balla