Vermont gas tax could soon be higher; diesel unchanged

| Thursday, September 22, 2011

Motorists in Vermont could soon be paying a bit more at the fuel pump as the state tries to recover from Tropical Storm Irene. And it may come as a surprise to most in the trucking industry, but truckers could actually catch a break.

In Vermont, the August storm devastated communities in the southern and central portions of the state. Gov. Peter Shumlin said he expects the price tag for reconstruction of roadways in the affected areas to exceed $1 billion.

More than 1,950 segments of local roads, about 917 culverts, and more than 200 bridges owned by municipalities were washed away following the tropical storm, according to Vermont’s regional commissions.

Rep. Margaret Cheney, D-Norwich, is expected to pursue a gas tax increase next year to help cover some of the expense of making road and bridge repairs. The plan is touted as a way to get people from throughout the state and outside the state to chip in to cover the costs associated with needed repairs in nearly 40 towns.

As proposed, the tax increase would remain in place for two years and would be designated solely for local road repairs. The plan does not include a bump in the 29-cent-per-gallon diesel tax, which is nearly a dime higher than the 20-cent-per-gallon gas tax.

A 1-cent increase in the gas tax is estimated to raise $3.3 million. Cheney has not indicated how much of a tax increase would be pursued. She is expected to wait until cost estimates for road and bridge repairs are clearer.

Shumlin and other lawmakers say the state should first find out how much money the federal government is going to give the state to make repairs before a tax increase is pursued.

The gas tax increase could be considered during the regular session that starts in early January.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Vermont, click here.

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