Local Mayors voice support for gas tax increase, seek to change distribution formula

Alabama hasn’t increased its gas tax since 1992.

A new proposal may lead to both higher prices at Alabama gas pumps and better roads to drive on in Alabama.

State leaders are once again considering raising the gas tax to pay for infrastructure improvements.

This year, mayors across the state are helping to advocate for the effort.

For example, the mayors of Alabaster and Vestavia Hills tell ABC 33/40 they want to see the gas tax increase and they want the distribution formula to change. They want more of the revenue to be directed to cities.

Right now, cities, counties and the state all get portions of the money. The state gets half of the revenue. According to the League of Municipalities, counties receive about 80 percent of the remaining revenue. Cities get 20 percent of it.

Alabama’s League of Municipalities is advocating cities and counties get equal shares.

Whether that happens, is up to state lawmakers, who return to Montgomery for the next legislative session in March. Leadership has said infrastructure needs will be a priority.

Republican Representative Bill Poole of Tuscaloosa, who chairs the House Education Budget Committee, tells ABC 33/40 he intends to file a bill in 2019 to address infrastructure needs.

Poole told us it's still unclear how much the gas tax increase would be but he intends for all of it to go to infrastructure improvements.

He said the state, counties and cities would all receive revenue and there’s a discussion going on about reviewing the percentages.

Vestavia Hills Mayor Ashley Curry is on the legislative committee at the League of Municipalities.

“Just keeping up with an aging infrastructure is probably the primary goal,” he explained.

He also wants the distribution formula to change, to provide more for cities.

“That’s based on the lane miles, as they call it, which is our responsibility to upkeep the roads,” he said.

Denise Wallace is one driver who needs more details to decide whether she supports the increase.

“That would be tough,” she said. “You never want to pay any more. But, however since I do drive a lot, it might be worth it to me to have better roads because that does wear and tear on your tires and your car. So, looking at the big picture it may be the way to go.”

Senator Jabo Waggoner (R- Vestavia Hills) says it will be one of the first issues legislators tackle this session. and he sees the odds as better than last year. But he adds, the devil will be in the details.

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