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Public meeting set for proposed gasoline tax increase

Madison residents can comment about a proposed gasoline tax increase at a public involvement meeting on April 4. Councilman Mike Potter has written an explanatory white paper. CONTRIBUTED
Madison residents can comment about a proposed gasoline tax increase at a public involvement meeting on April 4. Councilman Mike Potter has written an explanatory white paper. CONTRIBUTED

MADISON – Residents can voice their opinions about a proposed gasoline tax at a public involvement meeting on April 4.

The meeting will start at 5:30 p.m. in Council Chambers of City Hall, 100 Hughes Road.

District 4 Councilman Mike Potter has written “3-Cent Gas Tax White Paper” that “discusses the rationale for such a proposal.” Potter’s document is available on the city’s website (www.madisonal.gov/DocumentCenter/View/9365).

“Bottom line up front: Madison should consider raising its current local gasoline tax from 2 cents to 5 cents to fund a dedicated collector road maintenance program,” Potter stated in his white paper.

Potter defines “collector roads” as the “city’s internal arteries that flow traffic to and from neighborhoods and shopping, recreation and work destinations.” Examples are Palmer, Hughes, Gillespie, Browns Ferry, Hardiman, Burgreen and Segers roads and Madison Boulevard.

The city maintains 210 miles of neighborhood streets and 74 miles of collector roadways. Until 2013, Madison did not have a “resourced repaving program for our infrastructure,” Potter said. “In 2013, City Council began to turn this around for neighborhoods by allocating 25 percent of the sales.”

However, the city still does not have “a dedicated revenue stream that focuses on our collector roadways,” Potter said.

Madison “needs to get to the point where Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) is used for capital projects; federal and state highway funds are used for major projects; and the city funds routine collector road upkeep, just as we are doing with neighborhood roads,” Potter said.

“The need is obvious, but the question of ‘how’ is not,” he said.

Potter cited three “funding mechanisms” for roads: borrowed money from bonds and loans; federal or state dollars; and city revenue.

With bonds, council can commit substantial funds “on a project up front and pay it back over time. The negative is that it typically takes 20 years to pay a bond off and the total outlay is significantly more than the amount

borrowed,” Potter said.

With federal or state money, ALDOT (Alabama Department of Transportation) oversees the project. “ALDOT’s supervision typically adds 25 to 35 percent to the cost of a project … it also adds time,” Potter said.

City funds are the most cost-effective source to fun projects for collector roads, Potter said. Engineering standards are identical “but time and cost is significantly less because everything is controlled in-house.”

Currently, the City of Madison receives 2 cents from the 18 cents in tax on a gallon of gasoline. The state receives 16 cents/gallon.

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