County Highway Departments Receive Additional Gas Tax Funds

Starke County Highway Superintendent Stephen "Rik" Ritzler
Starke County Highway Superintendent Stephen “Rik” Ritzler

County highway departments throughout Indiana were pleased to hear that the General Assembly recently allocated them additional funding from the Gas Tax in an effort to fund local road and bridge projects. According to a press release from state representatives Tom Dermody and Douglas Gutwein, the downturn in the economy and the greater usage of high fuel economy vehicles has caused a decrease in the overall Gas Tax collection, and that has trickled down to affect local projects, causing delays.

For that reason, the legislature chose in the biennial budget to allocate an increase in funding for state and local infrastructure projects by removing “off-the-top” expenses such as State Police, Bureau of Motor Vehicles and Department of Revenue from the Motor Vehicle Highway Account and including 15 percent of state sales tax on gas to road funding.

In 2014, Starke County will receive an estimated $560,096 in additional funds, a 33.6 percent increase over 2012. In 2015 the county will receive another $569,477 additional. Hamlet is set to receive around $6,590 in 2014, while Knox will get around $30,513, and North Judson, $14,598.

Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler said he’s pleased to have the extra funding available.

“It’s nice,” Ritzler said. “It gives us the opportunity to enhance some projects we already have going and to plan some additional projects for next year. It allows us to do more and serve the citizens of the county better.”

Ritzler said the money has already been put to good use, and next year, it’s going to go a long way toward helping restore the roads in Starke County.

“This year, we did a few more chip seal miles because of it. We’re going to gravel many county roads this fall, we’re going to accumulate some materials for next year using this money, and then next year we have plans to do more paving, more chip sealing, more fog sealing, more gravel roads, more culverts – basically just enhance the infrastructure,” said Ritzler.

The legislature’s efforts have also allowed a nearly 34 percent increase in MVHA funding for these communities, and with less strain on the MVHA, the state is now able to fund roads more fully as the gas tax was intended.