ITD contributions to fuels tax collection pays dividends

ITD committed resources 12 years ago to assist the Idaho Tax Commission in the collection of unreported fuels taxes, with the assurance that an investment of one-quarter percent of the Surface Transportation Program (STP) would generate a three-fold return.

The use of approximately $780,000 in STP funds has far exceeded original projections, according to a report given to the Idaho Transportation Board at its June business meeting in Boise. Dar Walters, Fuels Tax Manager for the Tax Commission, reported the collection of nearly $5.7 million since fiscal year 1999, a recovery rate of 7.2-to-1.

The Tax Commission audit staff cross checked more than 26,400 fuel distributor returns and Idaho pipeline reports to identify unreported fuels taxes and has conducted 26 joint fuels tax audits of problem accounts and seven special border projects with neighboring states, Walters explained.

In addition to his report on the accomplishments of the program, Walters requested an increase in the annual allocation from $78,000 to $100,000. ITD’s contribution has not changed since the project was first approved in FY99. Because the money is insufficient to cover the escalating personnel costs, the Tax Commission has been subsidizing the program.

The project is funded in the draft FY11-15 STIP for $100,000. The document will be available for public review and comment next month and presented to the board for approval in September.

Other board discussion

District 3 report
District 3 Engineer Dave Jones reported that all of the district’s projects were delivered on time for FY10. Additionally, eight projects worth about $20 million were advanced and delivered in FY10 through federal stimulus funding and district savings.

Although a number of efficiency measures have been implemented in the district, Jones drew special attention to the Cascade/Banks’ winter maintenance innovations. ITD crew members invented a float control for snowplow blades that results in reduced pressure on the blade. That saves wear-and-tear on the blade and extends the working life of the blade. During the 2007-2008 winter, the two sheds spent $39,760 on 560 blades. After implementing the float control, the number was reduced to 66 blades the past winter at a cost of $4,620.

Another efficiency measure was introducing a 2-to-1 sand/salt combination with seven gallons per ton of magnesium chloride. That produced in a drastic reduction in the consumption of those products without compromising safety. Substantial savings were achieved from the 2007/2008 winter to the past winter:

  • Sand – reduced consumption by 76% or $128,525
  • Salt – reduced consumption by 52% or $35,310
  • Magnesium Chloride – reduced consumption by 91% or $71,190

FY11 Strategic Plan
The board approved the draft FY11 Strategic Plan at its June 16 meeting and will submit it to the Division of Financial Management.

The document is based on the strategic planning components that incorporate the mission, vision, long-range goals and vision elements. Those elements are supported by the accountability and performance elements. The plan also incorporates the new performance measures and goals.

District 3 tour
The three-day activities in District 3 concluded with a tour.

While the board traveled Idaho 55 north of Boise, it came upon a boulder blocking the northbound lane. It stopped briefly to join the maintenance crew as it was blowing the boulder into smaller, manageable-sized pieces to remove it from the road.

In Lowman, the board heard presentations on the statewide Avalanche Program and Incident Response Program.

The mission of the Avalanche Program is to provide avalanche forecasting, mitigation, and training for safe work and travel on Idaho’s highways, at a level appropriate for Idaho’s needs and budget. The board also saw a demonstration of the avalauncher.

The Incident Response units travel the I-84 corridor between Nampa and Boise during peak commute times to assist motorists and Idaho State Police as needed. Since the program began in 1997, the crews have responded to more than 100,000 incidents, ranging from traffic control at crash sites to removing hazards such as mattresses from the highway, to herding horses off the road. The intent is to keep traffic flowing safely and efficiently.

Published 6-25-2010