Where your gas tax dollars go in Billings

2014-03-22T00:00:00Z 2014-03-22T06:42:04Z Where your gas tax dollars go in BillingsBy MIKE FERGUSON mferguson@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

Asked during a Billings City Council work session Monday how the city’s $1.7 million annual gas tax allocation is spent, Public Works Director Dave Mumford had an answer in time for the council’s Friday packet.

By state law, Mumford wrote in a memo to Mayor Tom Hanel and the council, all the money is spent on roadway maintenance, and each project must be approved in advance by the council for inclusion in the Capital Improvement Program.

The money from Montana’s 27.75 cents per gallon gas tax is the only funding source available to the city for the construction and reconstruction of local streets and alleys, Mumford said.

In Billings, here’s how the state gas tax allocation is typically divided:

$250,000 annually for improvements under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This meets the city’s obligations specified in a contract between the U.S. Department of Justice and the city requiring the city to bring public property to ADA standards.

$250,000 annually for curb and gutter projects. By law, street maintenance funding can be used only to repair or replace no more than 6 feet of sidewalk on any 100 foot portion of sidewalk. That limitation requires the city to use gas tax funds for curb and gutter repairs. Gas tax funding does not cover known and requested curb and gutter and sidewalk repairs, Mumford said.

Between $350,000 and $600,000 annually for Special Improvement District projects. The funding is used as the city’s match for curb and gutter and asphalt projects on local street SIDs. Without the gas tax, funding for local streets would not be available.

$700,000 annually for the paver program. Gas tax funds are used with street maintenance fees to overlay and chip seal roadways to increase their life. Without the program, city streets “would deteriorate and require complete reconstruction,” Mumford said.

Variable amounts for school sidewalk and crossing projects. Gas tax funds are used to construct or upgrade school crossings to improve safety.

State law allocates about $10.4 million of gas tax funds annually to Montana’s incorporated cities. Half that money is apportioned based on the city’s population; the other half depends on an estimate of how many miles are driven within city limits.

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