DOT talks about U.S. 20 funds

SAC CITY – An official with the Iowa Department of Transportation explained a number of concepts Friday meant as possible ways to achieve funding for the completion of U.S. Highway 20.

The presentation was given to members of the U.S. 20 Corridor Association, which held its bimonthly meeting at Iowa State Bank in Sac City.

The options are part of efforts to make U.S. 20 four lanes wide across the state. Only 44 miles between Early in Sac County and Moville in Woodbury County remain to be widened.

Stu Anderson, director of the planning, programming and modal division of the DOT, presented nine fundraising concepts that could help complete the project.

While none of the ideas are being recommended to state lawmakers just yet, Anderson said there is ongoing discussion within the DOT and highway organizations about the best way to proceed.

“There’s a lot of work in talking about the transportation funding challenges,” Anderson said. “We think these concepts warrant additional discussion and maybe we’ll prepare a more formal recommendation later.”

One option Anderson discussed was dedicating aircraft tax use revenue to the State Aviation Fund.

“That would eliminate the need for funding,” he said. “It would be funded through the State Aviation Fund.”

Another fundraising option would be to raise the new vehicle registration fee from 5 percent to 6 percent, which would match the state sales tax rate. While this would generate $60 million per year for the TIME-21 Fund, Anderson said there is a cap to the amount of money that can be raised for that fund. After that cap is reached, the money would become part of Road Use Tax Funds.

Anderson said officials were also looking at applying the Local Option Sales Tax to fuel sales, but said it’s unlikely this will be recommended.

“It’s a lot more complicated,” he said, adding that funds could not be used for existing or new debt services. “We want lots of discussion on that.”

DOT officials are interested in hearing feedback from highway committees and other groups before making an official recommendation to the Iowa Legislature, according to Anderson.

“We’re listing every option that’s available to us,” he said. “But it’s up to the Legislature to decide what to do.”