PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota collected $10 million less from motor-fuel taxes during the past year than the prior year.

That was a first, according to state Transportation Secretary Joel Jundt.

He told the South Dakota Transportation Commission on Thursday that an advisory panel will look at possible responses.

“We’ve got to start soon, because the gas tax is already going the other direction,” Jundt said.

Currently the state excise tax on gasoline and diesel is 28 cents per gallon. Motor-fuel taxes brought in about $189 million two years ago but $178.8 million last year.

The downturn comes as passenger vehicles become increasingly fuel-efficient and more motorists turn to electric vehicles.

“We knew this was eventually going to happen,” Jundt said.

The state fee on an electric vehicle is $50 annually. Lawmakers added that charge in 2021.

The advisory panel will make recommendations about changing state laws, Jundt said. He would like a Transportation Commission member to serve on the group. Mike Vehle of Mitchell volunteered.

Vehle (VAL-ey) is a former lawmaker who chaired the Senate Transportation Committee. He spoke from experience when he said that legislators won’t support something that the public opposes. He said the group needs to educate lawmakers and citizens alike.

“It’s going to be extremely important,” Vehle said.

Secretary Jundt said he wants two legislators to serve on the group and he’d like to see some sort of pilot project.

“This is going to take a lot of time and effort,” Jundt said.