State Auditor to scrutinize ODOT at lawmakers’ request

Lawmakers asked for a performance audit as part of the recently passed gas take hike

State Auditor to scrutinize ODOT at lawmakers’ request
A new gas tax will yield $325,000,000 for infrastructure after a tax increase is phased in over three years. (Source: {WBRC})

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Starting in July, Ohioans will fork over more money at the pumps for a gas tax.

Ohio’s House and Senate recently approved a proposal to increase the state tax on gas by 10.5 cents a gallon and the tax on diesel fuel by 19 cents to maintain deteriorating roads and bridges.

The increases put the tax at 38.5 cents per gallon on gas and 47 cents a gallon on diesel fuel.

But lawmakers want to make sure the money be spent wisely.

As part of the Transportation Budget Bill they passed and sent to Gov. Mike DeWine for approval, they directed the State Auditor’s Office take a close look at how the Ohio Department of Transportation operates and spends.

“I think their concern is if we are going to raise money on Bob and Betty Buckeye that they have some degree of confidence that ODOT is operating as efficiency as possible," State Auditor Keith Faber said in an interview Tuesday with FOX19 NOW.

Ohio governor OKs gas, diesel tax increase to repair roads

Pumping gasoline fuel in car at gas station,travel,transportation and holiday concept.
Pumping gasoline fuel in car at gas station,travel,transportation and holiday concept. (Source: Natnan Srisuwan)

Performance audits are conducted by the auditor’s office to provide elected officials and employees at Ohio’s schools, local governments and state agencies with an objective, third-party analysis of their operations to help them improve performance, reduce costs, and make informed, data-driven decisions.

Normally, it takes 12 to 18 months for a state agency to perform an audit, according to Faber.

In this case, the state legislature has only given his office about six months.

“One of the concerns that we’ve heard repeatedly is ODOT has a decentralized management structure that each region kind of runs its own regional show and we think we can get more savings commendations by having a more centralized, coordinated purchasing and equipment utilization," he said.

Faber anticipates his office will partner with an independent management consulting firm and do this as a “hybrid audit" where they split the work.

His said his office will scrutinize ODOT’s:

  • Fleet utilization
  • Road building techniques
  • Life expectancy of their road projects
  • Efficiency of their operations

It’s not clear yet how much money might be saved, but with most of ODOT in road building, Faber predicts even small savings will equate huge dollars.

“We really want to make sure the money goes as far as we can but, more importantly, we are making sure we get the best quality for our money,” he said.

“It doesn’t go without notice for most Ohioans that we seem to be rebuilding the same section of road year after year and the question is what we can do to stretch it out.”

Copyright 2019 WXIX. All rights reserved.