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Change in gas tax law affects townships

WALKER — Cass County Engineer David Enblom reported to the county board Tuesday that legislators changed the law in 2012 that applies to how state gas tax is delegated to townships.

The law still states a county must take into account each town’s levy for road and bridge purposes, its population, town road mileage and other factors, it now permits a county to eliminate the requirement that towns must levy at least .04835 percent of taxable market value to qualify to receive the gas tax.

Distribution could be made according to a formula the state transportation commissioner sets by rule instead. Enblom said that rule gives 50 percent consideration to the population in a town out of the total population of all towns in that county and 50 percent consideration based on the number of road miles a town has out of all town roads in the county.

Cass’s formula considers 50 percent for town road mileage, 20 percent for town population, 25 percent for town market value and 5 percent for road and bridge levy. It includes the minimum levy requirement.

Because Cass has used a its own formula and required levying .04835 percent of market value in past years, that will continue unchanged until such time as the county and townships agree to some other formula.

The county board and Township Association Chair Reno Wells agreed Tuesday there will be no change in Cass County until at least next year, which then would apply to towns’ 2015 levy considerations.

For 2013 state gas tax distributions, Cass’s townships will share $445,259 in revenue. This is up $15,307 from last year, Enblom reported.

By state law, townships can spend this money only to construct or reconstruct a gravel or bituminous surfaced town road or to maintain the surface of a gravel road.

Enblom reported the project to build a bridge addition to the Highway 371 bridge by Shingobee Island south of Walker for the paved Paul Bunyan Trail connection to the city of Walker is at the bid advertising stage and is scheduled for construction completion by mid-summer.

The new bridge will be built adjacent to the highway bridge and will carry bikers, hikers and inline skaters in summer and snowmobilers in winter.

The county serves as construction manager for project owner, Shingobee Township.