Panel recommends taxing drivers

December 9, 2008 9:00:00 PM PST
A state panel recommended Wednesday that North Carolinians pay a tax for the privilege of driving state roads. The money would be used to improve the state transportation system.The 21st Century Transportation Committee gave final approval Wednesday to a list of recommendations for the General Assembly to consider when it reconvenes next month.

"There's going to have to be a revenue stream to support our transportation system," offered Commission Chairman Brad Wilson.

One suggestion is a Vehicle Miles Traveled fee, or VMT fee. Under it, residents would pay taxes proportionately to the number of miles they drive. The suggestion approved Wednesday would be a quarter-cent for each mile. So, if you drove 10,000 miles per year, the cost to you would be about 25 bucks.

"When you have your car inspected each year, the odometer reading goes into the computer, and then the formula could be calculated at that time and payment could be made at that time," Wilson explained.

But some residents say the tax would be unfairly shouldered by people who have to drive for their jobs.

"I have a son and son-in-law both in sales, and they're traveling all the time in their car, and it doesn't seem quite fair," offered driver Sally Garrett.

Committee members say there's an estimated $65 billion gap between transportation revenues and needs in North Carolina through 2030, so money has to be found somewhere.

Commission chairman Brad Wilson said citizens should get involved and pressure legislators to pay attention to the report. Legislators have said the bad economy will make it hard for them politically to approve more revenues in 2009.


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