ESCAMBIA CO., Fla. (WALA) - Drivers in Escambia County, Fla. might see higher prices at the pump if the Commission moves forward with a gas tax. It's an issue that has people talking.
Of course, prices at the pump are always a hot topic. One driver in Pensacola, Fla. said even with the recent lower prices, it's still tough to fuel up.
"It's quite difficult because I have my own business in which I use my car for transportation delivering the goods, and it's very difficult," she said.
Anther Pensacola man said he has put himself on a gas budget.
"I let myself have $10 a week, and I try and go by that, $10 per gas a week," he said.
Asking people to pay more is usually not a welcomed request, but it's one the Escambia County Commission is considering with a gas tax. Commissioner Grover Robinson said it's nothing new to Florida residents.
"There are about 22 of the 66 counties in Florida that do charge a gas tax right now. Escambia County does not but it's not unusual about a third of the counties do charge some form of gas tax," said Robinson.
He said it's been thrown around in the commission for years. Commissioner Gene Valentino is for the plan that would add four cents to every gallon of gas.
"Today, when fuel prices vary from 30-40 cents a gallon in the course of s few weeks, it's insignificant especially in today's economy," said Valentino.
Robinson said it also puts the amount you pay in the hands of the people, not like property taxes where your home value determines your contribution.
"The issue is you can control it .You now have control over how much gas you use and a variety of things," said Robinson.
Thursday, the commission voted 4-0 to take it to the next step.
"Everyone looked together, and said lets pull together and stay strong on this issue when it comes back up," said Valentino.
The money, which Robinson said would be close to $4 million, would go to the transit system. It is currently funded through property taxes and brings in a little over $3 million.
The difference in revenue, they said would go to things like infrastructure. The two commissioners said a positive to the tax is that not just Escambia County property holders would be paying it. Everyone who fills up, whether a resident or someone just passing through, contributes.
"When you look at what you would be able to collect, that's not just necessarily from all within Escambia County. It's a fair way to do it," said Robinson.
"It's an historic change for Escambia County. We're shifting the burden of funding for mass transit off of the backs of the tax payers the property tax payers, and we're putting it where it belongs on a fuel tax," said Valentino.
But what happens to the funds that come from property taxes? Valentino said they would deal with that later and make it a separate decision. Robinson and Valentino would like to see lower property taxes as a result.
"I fully expect to have a dollar for dollar trade, and that's where I am," said Robinson.
Even with that, some residents said 'no way."
"I'd rather see them lower gas prices, a lot," said one driver.
His idea, instead, make those who use the transit system pay more.
Valentino said there is another option. Use the just more than $3 million from property taxes that was going to the transit for economic development.
There will be a public hearing on November 19 and a vote shortly after. Four of the five commissioners have to vote yes according to state law. If it's passed, the prices won't increase until 2014.
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