The county gave me access to a 455-megabyte file containing all HDHO-related emails from between June 2018 and January 2019 from multiple county officials’ inboxes.

Here’s the best part: It’s a machine-readable file. I’m able to search and browse the emails in Outlook as though they are all a part of my own inbox. How extremely convenient.

Here’s a link to the full file.

I have started organizing the emails into piles: Useless, worth revisiting, and other. I need to just get through a first read of all of them, identify those worth revisiting, revisit them, and be done with it.

I am searching for mention of outside owners purchasing HDHO units. If I don’t find it, that’s the story. If I find it, that’s the story.

News bits

I sometimes pick up a nugget of news that doesn’t fit nicely anywhere, and since I don’t use Twitter appropriately, I have decided to simply list them in the newsletter (I swear it will soon be a newsletter) in a new special section, like the “In other news (outlets)” section.

Or maybe I can call them segments. That’ll give them more of a comedy show feel.

  • The City of Moab cannot set different property tax rates for properties of different kinds. I think that is state law, but it might also be a constitutional principal. For example, if that were allowed, you could imagine a city taxing strip clubs at some ungodly rate and everyone else at lower rates.

Off-topic: Paying for road improvements when all vehicles are electric

Taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel pay for road improvements. This creates a close nexus between the impact on roads that an entity makes and the fee that entity pays for the impacts.

When electric vehicles overtake gas vehicles, how will we pay for road improvements? It’s already happening: Fees on alternatively fueled vehicles.

That’s right; states, including California, charge owners of alternatively fueled vehicles for using their cars. Of course, some states do this more intelligently than others. Utah, it turns out, has a really good system for this. Let me start with a kind of bad system:

Idaho in 2020 set a flat $140 annual fee for owning an electric vehicle. The rate is $75 for plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEV), which consume gas but at a lesser rate than traditional cars. However, Idaho has not pinned the fee to any automatic adjustment.

The fee does not increase with the Consumer Price Index; it will remain the same until somebody complains that it is too low. For now, though, the complaint is that it is too high.

Meanwhile, Utah, has different fees for PHEVs, electric vehicles, and hybrids, aptly named the Road Usage Charge. Each fee, which is charged at the time a vehicle onwer registers their vehicle, will increase with the consumer price index starting in 2022.

But here’s the kicker: The state has an app and accompanying device that tracks how far you drive and can save you money on the annual fee if you use it. Pay for usage, or pay a simple fee, and pay the lower of the two if you opt for both. Nice.

To keep everything in perspective, here’s perhaps the worst system: North Carolina has a flat, non-adjusting fee of $130 for all plug-in vehicles.

The advantage of this structure is that it is simple; the disadvantage is that it puts the heaviest burden plug-in hybrid and PHEV owners, who pay both the full fee and the full gas tax. But PHEVs are dumb anyway, so I am crying no tears for those suckers.

That’s my little foray for today into how governments pay for roads.