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It's really a pay as you go tax

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By The Staff

The super majority of the Board of County Commissioners made a tough call in tough times at the last meeting Feb. 17. Approving a nickel per gallon gas tax that will dip into the pockets of all who drive, would take political courage in the best of times.

But Marion County has a rough row to hoe if it is to catch up with its transportation infrastructure needs. Even though the brakes have been applied to growth by still-inflated real estate prices and an economy that is running out of gas, the county is trailing in its road building and upkeep.

So how much will it really hurt to pay 5 cents more for a gallon of gas? Let’s say the “average” tank holds 20 gallons. That adds up to $1. If you drive a lot, that can add up; but most individuals don’t – and the “average” driver isn’t going to feel much pain in the pocket.

Commercial drivers and haulers will feel the pinch up front, but fuel costs are usually deductible as expenses when it’s time to pay federal taxes, so it’s a wash in the long run.

As far as being a “fair” tax, it really is. Yes, most taxes hit the poorest the hardest – but if you don’t have much money, you probably aren’t driving much.

It does impact those who put the most wear and tear on the streets and roads – and drivers who have contributed to congestion since moving here. That does seem fair.

This is also a rare fee that will be carried by those who don’t live here but still contribute to heavy traffic and use of the county’s roads. Tourists and commuters will also stop and buy gasoline.

What else was the Commission to do? Voters already complain about bad road conditions and this will only cover a $100 million bond over 30 years. The county needs about $1 billion within the next 10 years to meet projected needs. It was the only avenue open.