This post features an analysis of data from the Minnesota Transportation Finance Database.
Many people think that roadway expenses are mainly paid by transportation special revenues in particular federal and state fuel taxes. In fact, local property tax has been the largest single source of transportation revenue in Minnesota.
With 2010 data, our analysis shows that local efforts (mostly with property tax) account for 65% of total local road expenses across cities, townships, and counties in Minnesota. For the whole roadway system including state trunk highways and local roads, the share of local efforts would be about 52%, while the remaining 48% comes from federal and state special revenues. State fuel taxes, in particular, only accounts for about 16% of the whole funding scheme (see the chart below).
Some of these findings are quoted in a recent Pioneer Press editorial, Minnesota: Good Questions about Road Costs (Patricia Effenberger, 5/2/2015). Professor Jerry Zhao notes that, with the Minnesota Transportation Finance Database, we now have better data to provide such analysis to facilitate informed decision-making.