Quarrier Street in downtown Charleston is one of the most recent city streets to be paved this year, and the city wants drivers to know how the work is funded.
Like the state DOH and other municipalities across the country, the city placed two signs at the intersection of Quarrier and McFarland streets that read “This street paved with funds from user fee.”
The $2 user fee, which will go to $2.50 in January and $3 in 2020, is charged weekly to everyone who works in city limits, regardless of residency.
Love it or hate it, the fee brings in more than $5 million in revenue, which must be spent on “police protection and street maintenance and public works projects related thereto, and any costs related to the imposition and processing of this fee.”
Of that, $1.65 million is earmarked specifically for street paving and related transportation projects. The rest goes into the city general fund with the intent of offsetting expenses for which the fee is designated.
Despite officials explaining how the user fee works, including in this Daily Mail (now Gazette Mail) article from July, complaints as to how the user fee money is spent are frequent.
Public works director Gary Taylor said the signs were made during the first year the user fee was enacted (2004). Since then, they have been posted periodically during paving projects “just to inform people of where the money is being spent at.”
Other government entities place signs with a similar function.
West Virginians are probably familiar with signs placed on state road projects that indicate how much federal and state money is being spent on the given project.
Municipalities and counties across the country also place signs showing where special tax money is spent (most often with sales taxes). Such places include Fort Collins, Colo. (featured on this blog in 2014); Gillette, Wyo., and St. Louis County, Minn., for example.