SYLACAUGA, Ala. – House Bill 487 has been pulled from consideration at the State House in Montgomery.
The bill proposed a statewide increase in gasoline and diesel fuel tax by three-cents per-gallon. Alabamians already pay an 18-cent gas tax for every gallon of fuel purchased.
The bill would have also levied an increase in tag fees for vehicles that utilize alternative fuels. The legislation would have used the resulting revenue for the debt service for the ATRIP-2 Bond Issue.
The bond was set to fund $1.25 billion of infrastructure repairs, mainly roads and bridges, throughout the state. The $1.25 billion would have been distributed between all 67 Alabama counties. The monetary amount each county would have received was based on its population.
If the bill had been signed into law, Talladega County was set to receive over $19 million. 20 % of the money would have gone to municipalities inside of Talladega County.
The bill was pushed heavily by the Association of County Commissions of Alabama (ACCA). Talladega County District 5 Commissioner Greg Atkinson previously explained the logic behind raising the gas tax to fund infrastructure improvements. He said when the current 18-cent tax was created over 20 years ago, cars got far worse gas mileage per-gallon than they do today. The gas taxes stayed the same while gas consumption by consumers decreased, but the costs for repairing infrastructure continue to increase everyday. Today the construction costs on roads and bridges is 150% higher than 20 years ago.
According to the Talladega County Commission (TCC), it costs $80,000 to resurface one mile of road and $4,480 to replace one linear foot of bridge.
Atkinson previously said the Talladega County Commission had studies showing the average person will only spend an extra two-or three dollars per-month on gas, and when the infrastructure does get repaired the savings from excess wear-and-tear on vehicles will heavily outweigh the costs of the tax. The study shows those benefits reaching over $95 million over a ten year period.
So why did the bill get pulled?
On the surface it looked like a way to solve the road issues many complain about in the surrounding community, but Representative Ron Johnson said many of his constituents were opposed to the increase. “Many of the people I spoke to were young people with families, and they said they just do not have the money to pay an increase in taxes,” said Johnson. “This bill affects everyone, so I listened to the people who elected me and did what they asked me to do. That is what my job is. It isn’t to do what I’m told do to by parties that do not live in my district.”
Johnson also said the only people he spoke to who were for the increase were those who would be spending the money such as asphalt and concrete companies. According to Johnson, the ACCA did not come anywhere close to getting the bill to a place where it could be voted on.
One of the issues Atkinson previously pointed out was some roads are safety hazards. Johnson rebuked his claim by saying if the roads are really hazards officials would close them down.”I am sure there are roads and bridges that need to be repaired, but there things that they can do. They [the state] can properly spend the money they already get.”
SylacaugaNews.com repeatedly tried to contact Commissioner Atkinson and county engineer Tim Markert Friday for comment on the bill’s death in Montgomery. The two could not be reached.
Jeremy Law for SylacaugaNews.com | © 2017, SylacaugaNews.com/Marble City Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.