Pandemic keeps many inside, SCDOT loses $49 million in gas tax fees

News

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – COVID-19 has had a negative impact on the economy from business closures to high unemployment rates.

On the other hand, those who are working from home are saving over $2,000. A new study shows Americans are saving $758 million a day since the coronvirus outbreak by working from home.

The average adult in South Carolina spends about $2,400.16 on gas, car maintenance, bus and taxi fees, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Many are now saving the amount they would usually spend on traveling to and from work.

Officials with the S.C. Department of Transportation aren’t surprised by the new reports. Justin Powell, DOT’s Deputy Secretary for Finance and Administration explained how there was a significant drop in traffic around the time of the coronvirus outbreak.

“What we’ve seen since that time is – about May when that order was lifted – we’ve seen traffic volumes getting closer to what they were last year, but not at the same level,” Powell explained.

“So they are off – depending on the week right now – about 5-15% off. It’s certainly something we have seen. People are driving less right now,” he said.

Although many South Carolinians are saving money working from home Powell told News13 that less traffic has put a financial toll on the department.

The department’s state revenue relies on new car sale fees, gas tax, and DMV fees. DMV and car sale fees remain steady – if not exceeding expectations. However, the drop in gas tax fees is hurting DOT’s pockets the most, Powell said.

With more people working from home, the department has lost $49 million in gas tax fees so far this year. As a result, the state DOT slowed hiring new employees and is cutting back on certain purchases.

Powell explained how traffic is getting closer to normal since the state has reopened, but not as close as it was last year. However, less traffic has made room for expansion of state roads.

“We’ve been able to allow work to occur that we may not normally allow during the day because volumes have been lower and actually able to advance some projects during this period of time,” Powell said.

Federal funding has also helped with continuing many construction projects, but it’s too soon to tell if any other internal adjustments will need to be made as the pandemic evolves.

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