Bill lets taxpayers vote on county gas tax hike to fund road repair

MORGAN COUNTY, Ala. - Lawmakers say a statewide gas tax hike isn't happening. But a new bill could ask you to vote on raising your gas taxes to solve road issues.

"This all started with county commissions saying we don't have enough money for our local county roads and bridges," began Senator Arthur Orr (R-Decatur).

Now that Speaker Mac McCutcheon says a proposed statewide gas tax hike is dead, it could be 2019 before it could be brought back up and implemented.

Senator Arthur Orr proposes a more immediate option.

"You could raise your local county gas taxes up to five percent, it could be three cents, whatever you want to do in your county, so it's capped, and the people would vote on it," Sen. Orr explained.

It's expected that taxpayers won't want to raise their own taxes, but Senator Orr says it would boil down to seeing the problem spots in your own community.

The projects would have to be pre-identified and included in the vote that goes to the people. Orr also explains it would have to appeal to the county, and the municipalities therein.

The way the law is currently written, cities can unilaterally raise their own taxes while counties cannot. This bill gives counties an extra option to help deal with roads and bridges that need repair.

If it passes, Orr says, the timing is perfect for it to pop up on county ballots.

"Because there's going to be special election for the U.S. Senate seat, the people could vote on it then, have a local county vote, and it wouldn't cost any extra money, it wouldn't be a special referendum," he explained.

The bill is slated to go to committee this week, then they will see about trying to get a floor vote to push it forward.