Keep gas tax, Miami-Dade warns Florida
By Lou Ortiz
Florida is being cautioned by Miami-Dade County to think twice before replacing its motor fuel tax with an alternative tax, even though revenues are dropping.
Replacing the fuel tax with one based on the miles a vehicle travels would harm economic development and tourism and also invade privacy, so leave well enough alone, is the message the Miami-Dade commission Tuesday sent to Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature.
"Since 1921, road construction and improvements in Florida generally have been funded through motor fuel taxes levied on each gallon of fuel purchased," the resolution says. "Currently, more than 50 cents of every gallon of motor fuel purchased goes to federal, state and local taxes to fund transportation construction and improvements."
The county concedes that since 2004 the introduction of fuel-efficient vehicles and the economic downturn have cut into fuel tax funds.
The county says motor fuel tax revenue is expected to drop $500 million a year through 2015, with an eventual loss of $5.1 billion in collections by 2020.
"Looking to the future, it is estimated that motor fuel tax revenues will continue to decline as vehicles become more fuel efficient and as automobile manufacturers bring onto the market more hybrid, battery and electric vehicles such as the Toyota Prius, Chev-rolet Volt and Nissan Leaf," says Tuesday's resolution, sponsored by Rebeca Sosa.
"These dynamics call into question the long-term viability of motor fuel taxes as the primary revenue source for transportation improvements," it says. "Simply put, motor fuel taxes may not be a sustainable source for funding needed transportation improvements in the future."
"There is no consensus regarding a new revenue source to replace motor fuel taxes," the resolution says. "The Florida Department of Transportation currently is considering a number of alternatives to provide a sustainable source for funding transportation projects over the next decade."
According to the county, one alternative would link fuel taxes to the number of vehicle miles driven, which would require drivers to pay annually or monthly. The miles driven would be measured by a Global Positioning System installed in vehicles or having drivers report the number of miles driven based on their odometer readings.
"A transition to funding transportation projects based on vehicle miles driven may negatively impact economic development and tourism, especially in Florida," the resolution says. "Installing a GPS device in automobiles also may raise privacy concerns."
"As vehicles become more fuel efficient, it may be necessary over the long-term to transition to different means of funding transportation projects, but the Florida Department of Transportation should proceed cautiously given the current state of the economy and so as not to negatively affect economic development and tourism," the resolution says.
A certified copy of the resolution is to go to the speaker of the House, Senate president and chairman and members of the county's legislative delegation. The county also wants its lobbyists to advocate against a miles-driven tax.
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