Vote expected soon on Alabama county's tag fee bill

| 3/28/2005

A bill in the Alabama House would levy an additional ad valorem tax on motor vehicles to improve transit in the county that includes Birmingham.

The Jefferson County legislative delegation is scheduled to vote this week on a bill that would raise about $40 million to expand bus service, add dedicated transit lanes to highways, build park-and-ride lots and resume trolley service in Birmingham.

Sponsored by Rep. George Perdue, D-Birmingham, the bill is designed to provide a steady funding source to secure more than $80 million in transit funding that U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-AL, has set aside, The Birmingham News reported. Federal transit funding could reach $750 million over the next decade.

Supporters of the measure say improved transit is needed to get more people to jobs and school. Opponents said the bill is designed to strip money and power away from Birmingham and allow the suburbs to control the transit system.

The bill – HB512 – would increase tag fees for commercial vehicles by 5 percent and fees for personal vehicles would go up 3.75 percent. Fees, which would be tax-deductible, would be based on the vehicle’s taxable value.

If approved by lawmakers in the House and Senate, it would still have to get local voter approval to take effect.