No opposition to new tax voiced

Published 12:41 am Tuesday, February 7, 2017

No one spoke against a proposed statewide 3-cent-per-gallon gasoline tax in a public hearing the Covington County Commission held Monday night.

If approved by the legislature, the tax could mean $13.2 million for local road and bridge projects, county officials said. If the tax is approved, it will be levied for 15 years and used to fund a $1.2 billion bond issue to provide immediate infrastructure funding.

The measure is being proposed and promoted by the Association of County Commissions of Alabama, but as of last night, the proposed legislation had not been filed, according to the legislature’s online reference service.

County engineer Lynn Ralls said if the measure, called ATRIP2, is approved, Covington County could resurface 67 miles and replace 531 linear feet of bridges. The county maintains 630 miles of paved roads, 660 miles of unpaved roads, and 284 bridge structures.

(See prioritized roads list, here)

Because gasoline is taxed per gallon, not based upon the cost per gallon, gasoline tax revenues have remained flat or declined through the years, he said, due in part to the increased fuel efficiency of automobiles. The gasoline tax has not been increased in the state in 25 years.

Ralls said if approved, 20 percent of the $13.2 million expected to be distributed to Covington County would be shared with local municipalities.

The $2.6 million for municipalities would include $1.1 million for Andalusia, $245,442 for Florala, and $825,554 for Opp, with smaller amounts going to the smaller municipalities.

Commission Chairman Greg White and each commissioner spoke in favor of the proposed tax, with the exception of Commissioner Tony Holmes, who said he thinks the tax is a good thing, but wanted to hear from citizens before agreeing to support it.

The commission is expected to adopt a resolution in support of the measure later this month.