Gas tax increases Sunday

Published 3:00 am Saturday, August 31, 2019

Pike County residents and people across the state of Alabama will be paying an extra 6 cents per gallon beginning on Sunday.

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.

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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 approved a plan to use borrow money against the revenue source to pave approximately 58 miles of road in the upcoming fiscal year and more than 180 miles of road in the next 15 years. The current fiscal year plan is projected to cost more than $5 million.

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.

The city has also approved first-year plans for the revenue, using the funds to extend Mockingbird lane from U.S. Highway 231 to the industrial access road at Kimber Manufacturing to increase safety and reduce traffic flow.

Melissa Sanders, planning and zoning administrator, said the new road would provide safer access for the Pike County Advanced Academics and Accelerated Learning Center as well as the industrial and commercial sites in that area.

Another $30 million will be given out competitively by the state for projects related to state-maintained roads or properties.

The county has applied for that project to be the resurfacing of county roads 2224 and 2227, which connect Henderson Highway to Alabama Highway 87/167 (Elba Highway) and to Pike County Lake.

The gas tax was last raised in 1992. Since then, county officials said their costs have greatly increased while revenue has remained nearly flat as vehicles have become more fuel-efficient. The county is responsible for the majority of the county’s roadways.