Georgia reduces gas tax, might mean less money for roadwork

Friday, Jan. 2, 2009 12:21 PM
Last updated Saturday, Jan. 3, 2009 12:26 AM
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ATLANTA — Georgians can celebrate a reduction in the state's gasoline tax as they welcome in the New Year. But it will mean less revenue for transportation projects.

The state tax was lowered by 4 cents per gallon to 14.6 cents starting Thursday. Georgia's gas tax is adjusted twice a year based on the average price of gas. When that average price dips — as it has in recent months — the tax goes down as well. Gov. Sonny Perdue rescinded an executive order he issued in June that froze the tax as prices skyrocketed over the summer.

The reduction cuts millions of dollars for the state Department of Transportation, which had a $456 million budget deficit for the fiscal year that ended July 31, according to an audit report in September.

"Our costs are going up and our revenues are declining," DOT spokesman David Spear said today. "We're trying to prioritize our projects and do the things that are most needed."

The price at the pump in Georgia is the lowest in four years — an average of $1.45 a gallon for regular unleaded, a figure that hasn't been seen since spring 2004.

The state recalculates the gas tax every six months through a formula based on the average price around Georgia. Perdue suspended the recalculation of the tax over the summer, halting what would have been a 2.9 cent per gallon jump in the tax. Gas prices at the time were soaring to $4 per gallon.

The Department of Revenue estimates the suspension saved motorists $60.4 million through November.

It also marked a drop for the DOT. In November, the last month data is available, total motor fuel taxes were down 7.5 percent, from $88.6 million the previous year to $82.1 million, Mr. Spear said.

Mr. Spear said the trend began in the summer, when sales taxes started falling with the price of fuel and excise taxes dropped due to people driving less because of the previous sky-high prices.

"That's a good thing on balance," Mr. Spear said. "It reduces congestion and air pollution, but it reduces funds for us."

He said the DOT is not complaining because "things are hard all over." But whether considering projects to reduce gridlock in metro Atlanta or widen roads in rural Georgia, "we just have to come up with a more precise list and come up with things that produce more bang for the buck, so to speak."

The DOT budget for this year is about $2.3 billion, with about half coming from federal gas tax revenues and a comparable amount from the state. Spending could be padded by a "few hundred million" in bond sales, Mr. Spear said.

Transportation funding is a problem nationwide. With motorists driving less and buying less fuel, the current 18.4 cents a gallon gas tax and 24.4 cents a gallon diesel tax fail to raise enough to keep pace with the cost of road, bridge and transit programs.

In late January, the National Commission on Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing commission is expected to urge Congress to raise the gas tax by 10 cents a gallon and the diesel fuel tax by 12 to 15 cents a gallon. It also will recommend tying the fuel tax rates to inflation.

In Georgia, a proposal to allow counties to group together and impose a regional sales tax to pay for transportation projects failed to pass in last year's General Assembly by one vote. The Legislature is expected to try to tackle a statewide transportation plan in the session beginning this month.

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JohnQPublic
5
Points
JohnQPublic 01/02/09 - 12:28 pm
0
0
I thought the budget was in

I thought the budget was in trouble? Does the right hand know what the left hand is doing?

devilishlymad67
0
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devilishlymad67 01/02/09 - 12:31 pm
0
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I think atlanta has a

I think atlanta has a tendency to hog more then its fair share of georgians tax money then anyother area. And it needs to stop!

ITDoc
1
Points
ITDoc 01/02/09 - 12:35 pm
0
0
Gas taxes are too low. Taxing

Gas taxes are too low. Taxing gas is the most equal way to raise money as all people use it. Europe has had high gas taxes for many years, note Europe is well ahead of us in alternative energy development. Tax should be $1.00 a gallon for state, 25 cents a gallon for feds. We ALL benefit from good infratstructure and we ALL must pay the bill.

bone
23
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bone 01/02/09 - 01:33 pm
0
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enough taxes are raised to

enough taxes are raised to pay for infrastructure. the problem has been an overabundance of taxes leading to bloated budgets/bureaucracy like those of european countries. gov't will do what it always does in times like this: cut wasteful spending, trim the budgets, and dump needless workers in favor of more streamlined and efficient management. let's quit kidding ourselves: gov'ts are NOT good stewards of our money and i'm not about to believe that raising the gas tax would result in better services from an already disfunctioning system.

TEDDY1
0
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TEDDY1 01/02/09 - 01:57 pm
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gas is low...yeepee

gas is low...yeepee

pointstoponder
612
Points
pointstoponder 01/02/09 - 02:31 pm
0
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Problem with taxes is that

Problem with taxes is that politicians can't leave a pot of money alone. NC has had high gas taxes for decades and for a long time that pot of money was just for transportation. When politicians saw the funds just sitting there, they tapped it for other uses and now they are trying to find a way to fund transprtation increases. GDOT shouldhave enjoyed the revenue from the last few years of high prices. If there was a guarantee that higher gas taxes would be limited to infrastructure and alternatives, I might be able to support an increase. History has not shown me that our "leaders" know how to manage that simple task.

DuhJudge
206
Points
DuhJudge 01/02/09 - 03:04 pm
0
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Do not ever fall for the cry

Do not ever fall for the cry for higher taxes. The Georgia DOT is funded with 7.5 cents of every gallon sold in the state. It goes straight to the Commissioner of the DOT without stopping off in the general fund controlled by the Legislature. Good plan. It is so wrong for anyone to argue that taxes need to be increased because peolpe are consuming less. What a contradiction. The argument has always been to raise the tax to reduce consumption, now they are saying to raise the tax because of lower consumption. You can't have it both ways, especially when it is OUR money that WE earned with OUR backs.

g-dog express
0
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g-dog express 01/02/09 - 03:45 pm
0
0
Now if they store would lower

Now if they store would lower the price to where it should be. I went out of town for Christmas and paid 10-20 cents less per gallon outside of Georgia.

Tujeez1
0
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Tujeez1 01/02/09 - 04:59 pm
0
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Other than to say, stupid is

Other than to say, stupid is as stupid does, i'm only gonna point out that energy independence is the only way to really cut the costs we pay for gas. The war on terror would have cost us less if we didn't a vested have interest in the region. Keep gnawing on the OPEC johnson, seems to suit you, just remember I told you so.

joeuser
0
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joeuser 01/02/09 - 05:59 pm
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Hurray for Perdue! Maybe the

Hurray for Perdue! Maybe the DOT will cut wasteful spending and start using the money it has more efficiently. Maybe some of these "pet" Atlanta projects will have to be put on-hold for a while.

mawtnez
0
Points
mawtnez 01/02/09 - 06:01 pm
0
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Of course, local CSRA gas

Of course, local CSRA gas stations are celebrating this news by today raising their prices by (wait for it) .. 4 cents per gallon.

debby
12
Points
debby 01/02/09 - 06:14 pm
0
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Yeah, I also noticed that

Yeah, I also noticed that local Martinez and Evans gas prices went up today.

gamc30909
0
Points
gamc30909 01/02/09 - 06:25 pm
0
0
ITDOC if you like it in

ITDOC if you like it in Europe go the F to Europe. As for here shut the F up.

CoastalDawg
125
Points
CoastalDawg 01/02/09 - 07:50 pm
0
0
"Gas taxes are too low.

"Gas taxes are too low. Taxing gas is the most equal way to raise money as all people use it. Europe has had high gas taxes for many years, note Europe is well ahead of us in alternative energy development. Tax should be $1.00 a gallon for state, 25 cents a gallon for feds. We ALL benefit from good infrastructure and we ALL must pay the bill." Speak for yourself - didn't our forefathers fight a war more than 200 years ago to get AWAY from things European? I'm always enthralled as to why those who have the blessing of living in the United States always bring up stuff like THIS as if Europe is a role model for us. If that is the case, why does everyone look to the US for money, etc? Planes leave US airports every day for destinations in the perfect European world - check the flight schedule and send us an e-mail from there after you're relocated. But as for the price at the pump dropping, Sam's Club has one of the highest prices in my area, not the lowest and prices stayed exactly where they were two days ago, nary a cent lower even though the tax was reduced and crude oil prices continue to fall. We are still supposed to believe that there is no profit in gasoline sales.

dale88fan
0
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dale88fan 01/02/09 - 08:11 pm
0
0
yea -- i can keep my SUV for

yea -- i can keep my SUV for another 6 months!!!!

dgoo1269
0
Points
dgoo1269 01/02/09 - 11:41 pm
0
0
SWEET!!! Anyone want to buy

SWEET!!! Anyone want to buy my 10 speed?

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