COVID-19 causes SCDOT to lose gas tax revenue

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COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) – South Carolina drivers have been paying a few extra cents at the pump since 2017 as part of a roads bill to help fund infrastructure repair and construction.

The Department of Transportation has been using the money collected from taxes at gas pump to pay for projects, but with less people on the road because of COVID19, the department is seeing less money spent at the pump.

Since the first case of COVID-19 in South Carolina, traffic has slowly decreased, hitting a low when “stay at home” orders went in place.

“The low point was in April where traffic volumes fell of 45%. So that means people are traveling less they’re buying less fuel,” explained Pete Poore, with SCDOT.

Because of that decrease SCDOT predicts a $78 million loss in revenue between April and the end of June, the end of the 2019 fiscal year.

Poore continued, “What we’ll we do is monitor our revenue our cash flow versus the number of projects we can put out to bid.”

SCDOT will now have to collect the needed revenue before starting a project instead of planning ahead and thinking long term.

That loss doesn’t effect projects currently on schedule but it could have an impact on how the department approaches the projects left in its 10 year plan.

“It’s hard to forecast what things are going to do in the long term. For example, the recovery can be 6 months up to 2 years. So conservatively we are planning for a 2 year recovery.”

Secretary of Transportation Christy Hall has cut the department’s operational budget by 11% to help make up for that predicted $78 million loss in revenue.

On a positive note, the department did say that because of less people being on the road more road work has been getting done because crews are able to have lane closures longer due to those decreased traffic volumes.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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