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County engineer outlines benefits of gas tax

Butler County engineer Dennis McCall highlighted the benefits of a 3-cent gas tax during a public hearing held last Tuesday.

Butler County engineer Dennis McCall highlighted the benefits of a 3-cent gas tax during a public hearing held last Tuesday.

By Cecil Folds

Butler County engineer Dennis McCall spoke to the County Commission on Feb. 14 in a public hearing about a modest gas tax increase of three cents per gallon, which would be a little less than $2 extra per month for each driver in Butler County.

This increase would yield Butler County an estimated additional $10.8 million to improve county roads and bridges.

McCall said the lifespan of roads is about 20 years, and the roads in Butler County were paved in the 1950s and 1960s, placing them well beyond their expiration date. He went on to say the present gas revenues are not enough to cover the counties immediate needs of just maintaining the infrastructure in the county.

The Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program (ATRIP) has helped pave some roads in Butler County in the last four years, but the Association of County Commissions of Alabama aims to do more to help these counties.

The Association of County Commissions of Alabama came up with ATRIP 2 .

This 3-cent gasoline tax bill seeks to pay off a $1.2 billion bond issue, which will go before the legislature in February. If passed by both the Senate and House, ATRIP 2 would help repave and resurface around 12,300 miles of roads and repair approximately 450 bridges in Alabama.

McCall estimates this bill would have about a $54 million economic impact in Butler County while resurfacing around 65 miles of roads and replacing five to seven bridges. The money generated from this bill can only be spent on construction of roads and bridges – no salaries or administration costs can be paid out of this fund.

Once the bonds are paid off, the tax will go away.  It is estimated that the payoff should take about 15 years.

The Commissioners and McCall encouraged everyone in Butler County to contact their local legislators ( Chris Sells – 334-242-7768 and Hank Sanders – 334-242-7860 ) and encourage them to vote for the ATRIP 2 bill.