CASS COUNTY – Officials with the Iowa Department of Transportation are projecting road use tax funds will be down 20 percent over the next five months, and Cass County Engineer Trent Wolken told the Cass County Board of Supervisors Tuesday that could mean that his budget could lose as much as $250,000.

Wolken said the reason for decline is due to the coronavirus outbreak, car sales were down in April, and less people were out on the road during the past few months. The Road Use Tax is an excise tax, which are taxes levied on the sale of specific services, including fuel. It is paid by the producer or supplier, and eventually by the consumer as well since the producer or supplier adds it into the price of the product.

"That's just a projection from them," Wolken said after the supervisor's meeting. "If that holds true, we're down a quarter of a million dollars in our budget. It's not alarming, but it's concerning."

He said what could be more concerning is if the virus flares up again, and things are shut down again.

"The real concern is what happens the next six months," he said. "Say we close things up again - we could be back into another cycle where we have (a repeat of) not as many people driving and vehicle sales (down again)."

Wolken said he decided to put off making some purchases to keep the budget in a good place.

"We've put some (purchases) off to counteract that (possible decline) until we see what we're looking at," he said. "We were going to buy two motor graders at the beginning of the year, and we put one off specifically for this reason."

He said after he gets more firm numbers, he will decide if he wants to wait until next year to purchase another motor grader or do it closer to the end of this fiscal year.