SYLACAUGA, Ala. – Benjamin Franklin once said nothing in this world is certain but death and taxes. Those taxes for Talladega County residents may increase in the very near future.

The Association of County Commissions of Alabama (ACCA) recently proposed a statewide three-cent tax increase on every gallon of gasoline purchased which will be voted on in the State House in Montgomery sometime in the near future. All Alabama citizens currently pay at 18-cent tax for every gallon of gasoline which has not been changed in over 20 years.

To help inform the citizens of Talladega County on the proposed legislation, the Talladega County Commission will hold two public hearings. The first hearing will be held Monday, April 3 at 6 p.m. at Sylacauga City Hall in the City Council Chambers. The second hearing will take place on Tuesday, April 4 at 6 p.m. in Talladaga at the Talladega County Commission Courtroom.

Citizens who attend will be given the opportunity to ask questions and voice any concerns they have about the proposed legislation. Talladega County District Five Commissioner Greg Atkinson told he wants as many people as possible from the community to come out and get properly informed on the proposed increase in gas tax.

The three-cent increase in gas tax would result in $19 million for Talladega County annually. According to Atkinson, the top 10% of that will go to cities. If passed, the money earned will go directly to repairing infrastructure (roads and bridges) in the county. “We have a lot of roads and bridges in this county that need repair,” Atkinson explained. “All of the money from this proposal will be earmarked specifically for infrastructure, so if there is a way to raise money for bridges and roads this will be the best way to do it.”

Safety was the biggest issue Atkinson spoke of when discussing infrastructure in the area. “I don’t think anyone around here thinks the roads and bridges are in good condition,” he said. “This is a safety issue, and the role of any elected official is to protect the citizens they serve.”

Atkinson said the Talladega County Commission has 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.

Atkinson said the reasoning behind the increase is logical. When the current 18-cent tax was created many 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. Essentially roads and bridges have gotten more expensive, and the funds for repairing those roads and bridges have gotten smaller and smaller with the evolution of today’s fuel-efficient vehicles. Something had to give, and it seems to be your tax dollars.

“Sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to do if it is the right thing to do,” Atkinson stated emphatically. “That even includes myself, because I am a part of this too.”

But Atkinson told he has not come to his own conclusion on the resolution. Atkinson said he sees the benefits and the drawbacks from a raise in taxes, but he has not chosen a side yet. “I have not made my mind up yet, because I am on the side of the people I represent,” said Atkinson.

In fact, it may not even matter what Atkinson’s opinion is. The county commissioners do not vote on the bill. The bill will be voted on by your local representatives, and Atkinson urges everyone to make their opinions known to those who represent them in the State House in Montgomery.

In addition to allowing people to ask questions at Monday and Tuesday’s public hearings, the Talladega County Highway Department will have a short presentation prepared to help explain the proposal.

Jeremy Law for | © 2017, City Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.


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