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W.Va. road tax surplus offsets harsh winter costs

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — While harsh winter weather put West Virginia $13.5 million over budget on snow and ice removal costs, healthy returns in several road fund taxes more than made up for the extra spending.

That additional tax revenue is going toward fixing the scourge of potholes lining West Virginia roads after the pounding they took in recent months, said Secretary of Transportation Paul Mattox.

“Instead of having to take projects and reprioritize, it’s had really no effect on our state programming,” Mattox said, discussing the extra costs with lawmakers Monday.

At the state Department of Highways, discussions of re-evaluating priorities typically result in project delays. That could’ve happened this year with more cash than anticipated going toward snow and ice removal: the state budgeted $54.8 million but spent $68.3 million.

Mattox chalked up the extra costs to a “tougher winter” than the state’s experienced in recent years. Better tax returns parried the chilly cost projections and resulted in a net positive, he said.

So far this budget year the state Road Fund received about $14.4 million more than expected in motor fuel tax collections and $14.3 million more in privilege tax collections—the tax paid when someone buys a new car. That’s 4 percent more than the state expected from the motor fuel tax and almost 10 percent more from the privilege tax.

Combined with an extra $2.6 million from registration fees, the Road Fund has an extra $31.5 million this year…

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