PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As the pandemic continues, thousands of people are still working from home. People are driving less — not going to work, to schools, out to eat or have fun.
But the less people drive, the more money Oregon loses in gas tax money. And that will have an impact on what happens to our roads. It’s true more people are on the road than when the pandemic began in the spring, but the ripple effect rolls on.
The state said it’s received $27 million less in gas tax money between January and August 2020 than the same time period last year.
The state, cities and counties can’t make up the lost money. The gas tax also helps governments pay for road repairs and road construction projects. On Thursday, the Oregon Transportation Commission held a regular meeting and talked about the funding forecast.
The Oregon Highway Division also gets federal money and is in better shape right now than local transportation bureaus but there is an impact from so many people either not driving or driving less.
“For the money we have available just to have our crews out there patching potholes, plowing snow, responding to wildfires, all those things we do on a daily basis to keep the roads open and safe is primarily where you are going to see the impact,” said Travis Brouwer, the Assistant Director of Revenue for ODOT.
Registration fees also help fund the state transportation budget.
ODOT officials pointed out two things: The 2020 gas tax is 36-cents-per-gallon, which is 2-cents more than last year. Also, the diesel fuel totals “are not bad” because they do not include fuel used in trucks that pay a weight-mile tax. The diesel fuel totals “include medium duty trucks, and with home delivery up, these (numbers) make sense,” officials told KOIN 6 News.
January 2020 statistics for taxable gasoline show a drop of nearly 3% year-to-year. February and March were up slightly. But when the pandemic hit in April, taxable gas revenues dropped 32.33%, then another 26.21%. June, July and August were better but still decidedly down from last year — off by 6.98%, 5.29% and 5.30% in the most recent months available.
The diesel numbers in the same time frame show a 15%-27% increase in the first 3 months of the year. In April that fell to 0.92% increase, then a 3.83% gain in May. June, July and August rebounded but still way down from earlier in the year — up by 10.25%, 18.03% and 19%.