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Gas tax alternative could mean tracking your travels

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Updated: 8/05/2013 6:52 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The battle over whether or not to extend Jacksonville's gas tax is now front and center at City Hall.

Mayor Alvin Brown wants to nix the tax, but if that happens some wonder how the city would make up millions it funds JTA for road repair and infrastructure.

Chris Roe feels the pain at the pump every time he fills up his work truck. "I got to put my own money in it, me and my buddy right there and gas is going up everyday."

Six cents of every gallon he pumps goes to the Jacksonville Transportation Authority. It's called the gas tax. It's set to expire in 2016.

Mayor Alvin Brown says it's an unnecessary burden on taxpayers because there are more fuel efficient vehicles on the roads.

"It's not efficient and it really doesn't keep up with inflation," Brown said at City Hall Monday. "I just think it's really not a good thing."

Without the gas tax, JTA is likely to lose $30 million a year.

"The gas tax has been good to JTA," said JTA CEO Nathaniel Ford. "While it will be flat in the next few years and eventually declining because of fuel efficiency, there is going to be a need to look at other alternative forms."

One alternative is taxing based on miles driven not gallons pumped.

Councilman Stephen Joost says technology can track, then tax a driver based on the distance traveled. Electronic tolls provide the same concept.

Council members say if the tax expires, something must be done to replace the gas tax revenue.

Action News asked Brown if there is an alternative in the works. "Here's the thing, the gas tax doesn't expire until August 2016, so that's why we're talking about it. I think it's disingenuous to think that extending the gas tax is really going to make a difference."

Ford says his agency can't afford to lose out on an estimated $30 million a year. "This would really have a negative impact on the JTA but I think our leadership is very focused on this matter, we'll come up with a solution."

Councilman Matt Schellenberg expects some sort of gas tax proposal introduced to the City Council in the next 30 to 90 days.

The City Council rules committee agreed Monday to seek an opinion from the Florida Attorney General.
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