Jacksonville, FL - Jacksonville’s gas tax debate has moved closer to a vote, with a new blow to critics.
In front of a special joint committee meeting at Jacksonville’s City Hall on Tuesday, the Jacksonville Transportation Authority outlined new projections from the state that the local gas tax will be a stable, if not slightly growing, revenue stream over the next decade.
“One of the things that we’ve heard in opposition continually is this so called projected scare decline in tax revenue,” says Council President Bill Gulliford.
The main obstacle to overcome up to this point in the debate was questions on the viability of the gas tax as a long term funding line. The thought was that more fuel efficient vehicles are leading to less gas purchased and, therefore, less tax generated.
The new projection from the state, according to JTA, says increase in personal incomes, increase in fuel prices, and a growing portion of the population in the driving age will all override those concerns to show a small uptick in the gas tax collections over the next decade.
“We at least will have the $27-28 million and theoretically, we’ll have more,” says Councilman Robin Lumb.
Critics have also, to this point, not outlined any alternative way to bring that money in for the city.
Right now, the full six cent tax goes to JTA for various projects and is set to expire in 2016. The proposal under debate would extend the tax through 2036 and dedicate one cent of the tax directly to the city with 80% for roadway projects and 20% for bicycle/pedestrian safety projects.
The second sticking point for critics has been why a decision needs to be made now if this tax doesn’t expire until 2016. Gulliford, who is the sponsor, says now is the ideal time to bond out the money for the projects and the cost of construction will only continue to rise with time.
The bill is now back in the individual committees next week, and there are still a lot of questions that remain- including whether the list of projects to receive funding through the gas tax shows the best priorities. The bill must be voted out of the three committees to come for a final vote in front of the full Council.