2015-04-08 / News

26 CENTS PER GALLON

That’s how much motor fuel tax motorists will pay per gallon when they fill up with gasoline, beginning July 2016. They’ll pay 29 cents per gallon in taxes for diesel. The new motor fuel tax was part of House Bill 170, the state’s new transportation funding plan, which state lawmakers passed just two days before the 2015 session of the General Assembly adjourned last Thursday. The new tax takes the place of the state’s 7.5 cents per gallon excise tax and 4 percent state sales tax. Drivers here also pay another 2 percent paid locally for Local Option (LOST) and Special Local Options sales taxes, and a one-percent TSPLOST for transportation funds. Under the new law, they will only pay the one-percent LOST on top of the state’s excise tax.

The bill is expected to raise around $945 million annually, which will go toward funding the state’s backlog of transportation projects and maintenance. The bill created considerable blowback from the 46 counties, including Burke, where voters approved a one-cent, 10-year TSPLOST (Transportation Special Local Option Sales Tax) for the same purpose just three years ago. However, only three regions in the state passed T-SPLOST, sending state officials and lawmakers searching for other options to fund transportation.

HB 170 also imposes a new $5-per-night fee on hotel stays, a $200 annual fee on noncommercial electric vehicles ($300 for commercial) and $50- $100 fee on heavy trucks, and it would eliminate tax breaks for Delta Air Lines and electric vehicle owners. The bill is headed to Gov. Nathan Deal’s desk to be signed into law.

Department of Revenue officials say they haven't yet calculated exactly how much more motorists will pay in taxes on each gallon of gas under the new plan.

HOW DID LEGISLATORS REPRESENTING BURKE COUNTY VOTE?

SENATOR JESSE STONE

(R-WAYNESBORO)

I voted against HB 170 because I believed it was unfair to impose an additional transportation tax on regions like ours (the CSRA) that were paying T-SPLOST. I also was concerned that it would hurt the Augusta area businesses since we border South Carolina which will have a 16-cent per gallon gas price advantage. I voted to make it easier for metro Atlanta counties to pass their own T-SPLOST which could raise almost $1.5 billion per year (a higher amount than HB 170) for transportation.

REP. GLORIA FRAZIER

(D-HEPHZIBAH)

First of all, the state has continuous infrastructure problems. I supported HB 170 to make sure we have funding in place for all the repairs that need to be made to infrastructure like roads and bridges. The deciding factor for me was a component that was changed for the tier we are under. Now, when our T-SPLOST expires after ten years, we will have the option to extend it and provide additional funding for projects in county.

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