Friday, March 9, 2012

Public Officials Are lining up AGAINST Tolls

As of March 9, three public officials and one county commission have declared their opposition to told on I-95. Rep Renee Ellmers is first out of the box to take steps to stop the plan to put tolls on I-95 in NC. “My constituents in these areas are already facing hard times and now we’ve increased their gas tax and we’re going to be adding another tax on them to go to and from work — to and from their daily lives,” said Ellmers. “I just think that’s incredibly-- here's a video report

Ellmers is not alone, however. The Johnston County Commission unanimously adopted an anti-toll resolution on March 5. (The text is on this blog in a separate post; the official record is here.  )

Other public officials are also speaking up. Jimmy Keefe, a member of the Cumberland County Commission, published a column opposing the tolls. And William David Ayers, Town Commissioner for St. Pauls NC, took to the Letters column of the Fayetteville Observer on March 9.  Here's what he wrote:

Being from a small town on Interstate 95, the topic of tolls is inflammatory. St. Pauls has suffered economically with loss of industry. The town now counts on the interstate as its 21st century industry.
St. Pauls has two underdeveloped exits on I-95 and an adjacent certified industrial site. I believe the tolls now jeopardize a bright future centered on development of those sites.
The DOT stated in The Fayetteville Observer that upgrades to I-95 cost $4.4 billion and would take 60 years with existing funds, leaving no money for other roads. Let's take a closer look. One cent in gasoline tax equals $50 million in revenue, according to the DOT. Therefore the 39.5 cent per gallon tax generates roughly $2 billion a year for roads. Add in diesel taxes, road use taxes and other revenue - the total generated has to be well over $2.5 billion.
How to pay for upgrades? Using only the 4.5 cent gasoline tax increase from this year, $225 million would be generated. Dividing the $4.4 billion by $225 million, it would take almost 20 years to pay for upgrades to I-95. Doubling that to 9 cents from the current 39.5 cent per gallon gasoline tax, we could pay for the upgrades in 10 years.
Can't the DOT be run on $1.5 billion from the remaining 30.5 cents per gallon gas tax and additional revenues?
I oppose this toll and the economic impact it will have on small towns. 
William David Ayers, town commissioner, St. Pauls
 We predict there will be more public officials joining this chorus of sensible opposition.

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