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9 local business groups pump up support for fuel tax measure

Just five days before Election Day, nine local business groups voiced their support for a county ballot measure that would require motorists to pay more at the pump over the next decade to help cover the cost of roughly $3 billion in new transportation projects.

The joint endorsement for Question 5 coincided with the announcement Thursday that the groups are joining for a new Council of Chambers aimed at bolstering collaboration for high-profile projects across the region. The council brings together eight local chambers of commerce and the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance.

“We know that if we’re going to take our region to the next level, we’re going to have to work together,” Jonas Peterson, president and CEO of the LVGEA, said during a news conference held at the agency’s headquarters.

“We support fuel revenue indexing because we believe it is a common-sense approach to help build a robust transportation infrastructure throughout Southern Nevada,” Peterson said. “Extending fuel revenue indexing at the ballot will generate an additional 25,000 jobs throughout Southern Nevada and countless important projects for our community.”

Clark County voters will be asked Tuesday whether to approve Question 5, which calls for a 10-year extension of the fuel revenue index tax that took effect in 2013. About $3 billion would be generated by the tax, helping to pay for nearly 200 road construction, maintenance and repair projects.

If approved by a simple majority, gasoline taxes would climb about 3.6 cents per gallon annually, according to projections from the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada. That comes to 36.32 cents more per gallon by 2026, based on a 4.54 percent annual inflation rate connected to the producer price index.

Supporters of Question 5 said several projects might not be completed as planned if voters don’t approve the updated fuel tax measure, including a $20 million study on how Interstate 11 would connect from Boulder City through the Las Vegas Valley , or a new Sky Pointe interchange at U.S. Highway 95 and the 215 Beltway estimated at $155 million .

“The I-11 is coming to the gates of Henderson, and we need to make sure our surrounding roadways can handle that traffic,” said Scott Muelrath, president and CEO of the Henderson Chamber of Commerce.

Though there is no formal opposition to Question 5, Nevada drivers already pay the seventh-highest gasoline prices in the United States and the country’s 10th-highest gasoline tax, according to a study released in September by the Guinn Center, a nonprofit, bipartisan research group in Las Vegas.

One argument against the tax, according to the Guinn study, is that it takes a larger percentage of income from poor people. The study also noted that the tax could be deemed unfair to owners of older, gas guzzling-vehicles, who would have to pay more at the pump, while drivers of expensive hybrid and electric cars are able to avoid the tax.

“We must vote yes on Question 5 because it will enable us to fix our roads and put in more traffic lights and stop signs, all of which make our roads safer for drivers, pedestrians and tourists alike,” said Ken Evans, president of the Urban Chamber of Commerce. Clark County road projects possibly affected by Question 5 (Gabriel Utasi/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Contact Art Marroquin at amarroquin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0336. Find @AMarroquin_LV on Twitter.

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