DES MOINES — The chairman of the Iowa House Transportation Committee is coming out against the city of Clinton's proposed plan to use gas tax revenues to cover the hiring of three street employees.
"It has come to my attention that Mayor Mark Vulich and five members of the Clinton City Council approved spending Road Use Tax Funds for the hiring of staff," Josh Byrnes stated in a press release issued this morning. "As the chairman of the Iowa House Transportation Committee, it was never my intention to have these funds used on salaries."
The Clinton City Council on April 7 decided 5-2 in a Committee of the Whole meeting to proceed with using some of the more than $470,000 in expected new revenues to hire the three employees. Iowa Department of Transportation Commission Chairman David Rose of Clinton told the Clinton Herald that those hires skirt the “intent” of Iowa lawmakers who approved the 10-cent per gallon increase to improve road conditions. The tax went into effect March 1.
"I have spent the last three years of my life working on increasing funding for our crumbling Iowa infrastructure," Byrnes said. "Not once did I advocate for a fuel tax increase so that cities and counties could hire more people. This money is for infrastructure, period. I am absolutely dumbfounded that a group of elected officials would take it any other way."
Byrnes is asking Clinton residents to contact Vulich and the five city council members who approved using the money for hiring. He also commended Councilmen Tom Determann and John Rowland for their votes against the hiring.
"Mayor Vulich agreed that the Clinton Streets Department should (finally) have adequate staffing," he wrote. "My question would be — shouldn't the residents of Clinton finally have adequate infrastructure? When did a department trump constituents?"
The DOT Commission is meeting today in Davenport, with Clinton's gas tax spending plan being discussed. Check Clintonherald.com for updates to this story.