Escambia County News Politics

Commission Passes Gas Tax

November 19, 2012

After nearly four hours the crowd had thinned, but there were still plenty of people left in the gallery to watch the Escambia County Commission pass a four cent gas tax on a 4-1 vote. It was a predictable move, follow-through on a decision made during last week’s meeting.

“Just shut up and vote,” said Commissioner Kevin White a few minutes before the tax was passed.

White was the lone dissenting vote. The outgoing commissioner said he had never voted for a tax increase and passed on doing so the last day of his term.

The rest of the commission haggled over details—county staff has committed to looking for a way to cut an equivalent $1.15 million from ad valorem—but ultimately approved the gas tax in an effort to have a dedicated funding source for Escambia County Area Transit, the area’s mass transit system. The tax will not take effect until January 2014.

“It’s news that we’re moving in the right direction,” Mike Lowery, head of the ECAT employees union, said after the public hearing.

The public hearing drew a chamber full, public anxious to weigh in. The room was about evenly split, for and against, issuing the tax.

Proponents told the commission the mass transit system was an important area asset that deserved a dedicated source of funding, while those against the tax argued that they shouldn’t have to bear the burden at the pump for funding such a service. One man said that government should not act as “Robin Hood.”

“I’m not a socialistic person,” Commission Chairman Wilson Robertson said prior to the vote. “I’m a conservative Republican, but I believe in helping the less fortunate and we need mass transit.”

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  • Joe Montana November 26, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    Its my understanding that the 4 cent gas tax will FULLY fund ECAT at the current level PLUS pay raises for the employees.
    The remainder of the tax money will fund other county programs,,,ie pay raises.
    A 2 cent tax would have taken care of ECAT and we would have been done with it.
    Please correct me if I’m wrong with some figures. The total amount of the 4 cent tax was never really announced.

  • rachel terry November 26, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Straddling the fence?

    You must be crazy Mr. Henry! Sam Hall has never straddled the fence. Sam has been controversial since day one because of his positions, because of his outspokeness.

    That he took no position at all before his last day in office for information only, for your informatiion, demonstrates his recognition his day’s are over.

    Fortunately, yours never began.

    Good day, sir, Mr. Henry, you coward!!!

  • George Hawthorne November 26, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    Sam – Also, there have been times when I thought not to say anything, however, I have always felt to say nothing validates misrepresentations and nonsense. So I would rather be known as someone who speaks their mind in hopes of substantive debate instead of folly.

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