THIS WEEK IN PRINT: Bill that allows county commission to raise gas tax advances

THIS WEEK IN PRINT: Bill that allows county commission to raise gas tax advances

PHOTO: After a statewide gas tax fails, Montgomery comes up with a new bill to allow the tax to be enacted at the county level. (File Photo)

By Tyler Pruett, Managing Editor

MONTGOMERY, Ala. While the gas tax bill has been declared dead not only for this year, but the next, another bill has made it through the appropriate senate committee that would allow county commissions to raise the tax at the county level by as much as 5 cents.

The bill, Senate Bill 386, will allow Alabama county commissions to raise the local gas tax by way of popular county vote and also requires the counties to provide voters with a list of projects that the tax increase would fund.

Senator Arthur Orr (R - Decatur) is sponsoring the bill. The bill would not only allow for the funds to be used for county road projects, but also for road improvements within city limits.

If the bill becomes law, it’s all but guaranteed that a referendum to raise the tax will be on the ballot in DeKalb County for 2018.

The new bill comes after lawmakers dropped a bill to raise the statewide gas tax after the measure couldn’t clear a procedural hurdle, due to lack of support. The need for more money to make infrastructure improvements stretches from Montgomery to Fort Payne, with both state officials and county officials highlighting the lack of funds for road departments. Fort Payne Mayor Larry Chesser even discussed the problem from the city’s perspective at a recent council meeting.

At recent meetings of the DeKalb County Commission, the county has also discussed the need for funds to fix roads. The County Road Department has even had to resort to tearing up the old pavement on roads and replacing it with gravel, as the gravel is safer than torn up pavement.

While revenue is needed to help with infrastructure projects, don’t let politicians fool you. Increasing a tax on gasoline would increase the daily expenses of every single citizen within the affected areas. While .05 cents or .04 cents (how much the original bill would have raised taxes), seems trivial, think about: if you buy 10 gallons of gasoline, you would pay .50 cents more. But it doesn’t stop there….

While directly consumers would see an increase at the pump, indirectly, consumers would see a slight increase in all consumer goods purchased due to higher cost of delivery. Not only will it cost a little more to get to the store, it’ll cost more when you get there.

Now imagine how much this will increase the total cost of living in your daily life i.e.; cost to get to work, feed, and clothe your family. While it’s difficult to determine exactly how much more this tax will cost you, it could reasonably be $3 - $5 per day.

Now think about how much that will increase your cost of living per year, even at a 3 dollar increase per day, that’s over $1000 more per year live your life.

Our state and local government is correct in their assessment that we need more funds for infrastructure, but they are avoiding all possible solutions, to pass this tax on to the average Alabamian. Dozens of industries in the state could survive a tax increase, without passing it on to every citizen and small business in the state or county.

Why do lawmakers not approach these tax increases on industries? Because they have powerful lobbyist, that can either give them thousands of dollars for a reelection if they vote their way, or give thousands to an opponent if not. Therefore, they’ve kicked the can down the road to you, who doesn’t have thousands of dollars to give to a campaign.

Not only could industries have their taxes increased, but we could also do an assessment of how state money is being spent. It doesn’t matter how much money you have coming in, if it’s not being spent properly, we’ll always have this problem, no matter how much gas costs.

We in no way advocate “tax the rich, give to the poor,” but in this case, if someone needs to be taxed, it shouldn’t be the average Alabamian. We didn’t create this mess, the majority voted for lower taxes. While everyone is focused on draining the swamp in D.C., we should start here at home.