Alabama House rejects county tag fee bill

| 5/2/2005

An effort to amend Alabama’s constitution has died in the state’s House. It sought to levy an additional ad valorem tax on motor vehicles to improve transit in Jefferson County, which includes Birmingham.

House lawmakers voted 49-6 for the referendum, with several members not voting. Proposed constitutional amendments require 63 yes votes to pass the chamber.

The bill called for raising 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, HB512 was 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 in 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.

Perdue’s bill would have increased tag fees for commercial vehicles by 5 percent and fees for personal vehicles would have gone up 3.75 percent. Fees, which would have been tax-deductible, would have been based on the vehicle’s taxable value.

It required local voter approve to take effect.