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Gas tax takes effect Sept. 1

Pike County residents and people across the state of Alabama will be paying an extra 6 cents per gallon at the gas tank beginning in September.

The price increase is part of the “Rebuild Alabama Act” passed by the Alabama legislature in March this year to fund the rehabilitations of the state’s roads and bridges.

Under the new law, the state tax on gasoline and diesel fuel will increase by 6 cents a gallon after Aug. 31, followed by an additional 2 cents a gallon on Oct. 1, 2020, and another 2 cents on Oct. 1, 2021. Beginning in 2023, it will be adjusted according to a national highway construction cost index, and could change by no more than a penny every two years.

The 10-cent per gallon increase is expected to generated $320 million a year to fund road construction and maintenance. The Alabama Department of Transportation will get 67 percent of the money, counties will get 25 percent and cities will get 8 percent.

The Pike County Commission is working on the plan for how it will use the money and could vote on it as soon as the next meeting on Monday, August 12. The commission has crafted a plan that would see about 57 miles of road paved in the first year with nearly 200 miles of road being paved under the plan over a 15-year period.

Although the tax will begin being collected in September, the county won’t see that revenue until January 2020.

Instead of waiting for the money to build up before repaving local roads, the county is considering a 15-year note to begin tackling the backlog of the county’s worst roads.

“This road paving list is built on degradation and risk assessment that has stayed the same for the past two commissions,” said Commissioner Russell Johnson, District 6. “Before the gas tax, a $480,000 federal highway grant was the sole source of funding for the county to resurface major and minor collectors. There has been no budget period for local roads in the last 30 years.”

The existing road needs list breaks down the roads into three categories: “Class C” roads that are in immediate need of resurfacing, “Class B” roads that are degrading to a point they will soon need to be resurfaced, and “Class A” roads that currently are not in danger of becoming an issue.

Only 49 percent of the annual revenue is budgeted in the plan to debt payments, limited by the state’s Rebuild Alabama Act. The other half of the revenue will also be spent on a yearly basis.