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Gas tax public hearing set for February 14

Tuesday, Feb. 14 will be a busy day indeed for the Butler County Commission.

In addition to a 3:30 p.m. public hearing at 4:30 to discuss the possibility of staggering the terms of the Butler County commissioners–which would prevent all five commissioners from being up for reelection at the same time–another 5 p.m. hearing is set to discuss the proposed statewide legislation for a modest gas tax increase.

The tax increase would fund a bond issue for improvements for county roads and bridges.

If approved and passed, the proposed 3-cent increase could result in Butler County receiving a potential additional $10.8 million for improvement to any of the county’s roads and bridges, and not just the major collector roads.

County administrator Diane Kilpatrick said that 3 cents was the most that the county might expect, though every single detail of the proposal remains up in the air.  She added that this proposal bears a real significance for the county’s less attended roads¬–specifically the roads that had not seen renovation since they were constructed.

“Butler County hasn’t been able to spend much on other roads,” Kilpatrick said.

“Our gas tax has been flat for years, while our expenses have quadrupled.”

Butler County engineers estimate that it costs $4,480 to replace one linear foot of a bridge, while it costs $140,000 to resurface just a one-mile stretch of road.

Inflation has presented a sizeable challenge for the maintenance and improvement of the state’s county road and bridge systems.

Ultimately, the cost of identical construction projects from 20 years ago are 150 percent higher today.

The gas tax increase of just three cents per gallon–or less than $1.50 per month for each driver in the state–could have a monumental impact on Butler County’s transportation infrastructure in the years to come, giving the county the means to resurface an additional 101 miles of roads and approximately five to seven new county-maintained bridges.