Gas tax to go in effect on Sept. 1

Published 6:33 pm Monday, August 26, 2019

The price of gasoline will go up Sunday in Alabama, as a 10-cent gasoline tax goes into effect.

In March, Gov. Kay Ivey signed the measure as part of her Rebuild Alabama Infrastructure Plan. The first phase of the gas tax will cause prices to go up six cents on Sept. 1, which will push the state’s tax rate to 24 percent for a gallon of gas.

The state increase will be on top of the local motor fuel taxes. In Valley, the city charges three cents per gallon. In LaFayette, it’s two cents, and in Lanett, it’s one cent.

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Local state representatives in the Greater Valley Area were on separate sides of the deal.

Debbie Wood, R-Valley, who represents the 38th District, said she voted for the bill because in 2017, Alabama generated $35 million less in motor fuel tax dollars than it did in 2012.

Additionally, she said there are more fuel-efficient vehicles on the road that stop for fuel less often.

She said the state tried to take care of its roads based on the motor-fuel tax in place, but it wasn’t working.

“We had to do something to make up the difference up and that is what we are doing,” Wood said. “Even what we passed isn’t going to make it up. We are still behind.”

When Wood announced she was in support of the bill, she received scrutiny on social media about her decision, but she said she had the support of local public officials moving forward.

“We had to make a hard decision to move Alabama forward,” she said. “I am making decisions that I feel like will better the state of Alabama and my district.”

Bob Fincher, R-Wedowee, who represents the 37th District, voted against the bill, and said that 10 cents was too large of a jump for a tax at one time.

Additionally, he felt more money generated from the bill should be passed down to the local county roads instead of the state and federal highways.

“The needs I see in my district are at the county levels and county roads and bridges that really need repair,” Fincher said. “Two-thirds of this money raised is going to the state department of transportation.”

Another issue Fincher had with the increase was language within the bill allowing for an automatic cost of construction increase that can increase one cent every two years without a vote by the legislature.

The next increase for the gas tax will be Oct. 1, 2020, with a two-cent raise, according to the bill. After that, another two cents will be added Oct. 1, 2021.

After the 10 cents is reached, starting Oct. 1, 2023, and on July 1 of every year, the tax rate will be adjusted by the yearly average of the National Highway Construction Cost Index.

However, the increase or decrease of the tax cannot exceed one cent per gallon.

The tax increase is the state’s first gas increase since 1992, and each cent of the tax is expected to generate $32 million in revenue.