ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC4 Utah) Drivers in Washington County could soon vote on a sales tax increase that is expected to have a significant impact on how much time they spend on traffic.
On Tuesday, county commissioners are expect to vote to put a local option sales tax on the November ballot.
Drivers in Washington County are spending thousands of hours stuck in traffic every day.
“It’s really bad, I mean it’s really gotten busy,” Marilyn Roundey said, St. George resident for 50 years.
Congestion is expected to get significantly worse in the next 25 years, according to estimates from the Dixie Metropolitan Planning Organization (DMPO).
“The biggest thing we are dealing with is traffic congestion and air quality,” Dixie Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Myron Lee said.
DMPO data shows drivers spent 2,200 hours stuck in traffic every day last year.
Based on growth projections, that’s expected to skyrocket to 19,000 by 2040 with current funding on transportation projects. That’s an increase of more than 750 percent.
But with new revenue for more projects, that time could be cut nearly in half, with daily delays of 10,000 hours.
“The projects that are needed are things like adding additional lanes or creating transit routes, bus routes where we have vehicles now,” Lee said.
To pay for it, an estimated $1.6 million per year could be raised if voters approve a new sales tax.
To break it down, for every $4 spent in Washington County, an additional one cent could go to transportation if the sales tax increase is approved by the commission and voters.
“We want the voters to understand that we are putting it to them to decide,” Washington County Commissioner Victor Iverson said.
Washington County Commissioners Iverson and Zachary Renstrom say the sales tax proposal is pushed by mayors who have said their cities need more transportation funding.
But voters aren’t sure if paying more taxes will help time spent behind the wheel.
“I don’t really see any ways that will really relieve a lot of the traffic here in this little city,” Roundy said.
“I don’t know if we have to open more roads or find other ways to handle it,” Figueroa said.
The proposed tax increase is expected to cost the average resident $40 per year.