North Carolina drivers to be charged by the mile?

North Carolina Department of Transportation considering charging drivers for miles traveled on state roads.
April 3, 2014 4:13:22 AM PDT
Big changes could be just down the road for North Carolina drivers. A proposal is in the works that would change the state tax system to charge drivers by the mile, and at the gas pump.

The proposal would be to charge a half cent per mile for cars, which would generate almost $500 million in annual state revenue. A driver who travelled 15,000 miles in a year would pay about $75.

"Basically you pay per the mile. It's treating transportation as a utility, much like your water and sewer," said Larry Goode, with the Institute of Transportation Research and Education.

North Carolina currently tacks on an additional 37.6 cents gas tax at the pump. The vehicle mileage tax, or VMT, would not replace the gasoline tax. It would be an additional fee.

Lawmakers are looking at making changes because of falling state gas tax revenues - in part because of more fuel-efficient cars requiring less gas. North Carolina drivers currently pay one of the highest gas taxes in the nation.

Some state leaders say the more drivers use their car, the more they should pay, because more cars rolling cause more wear and tear on the state's roads.

"There are a lot of potholes, and to raise more taxes could be beneficial, but at the same time, we are already paying so many taxes for so many other things, we don't exactly know where that money goes," commuter Katherine Gerstel said.

North Carolina's Board of Transportation Funding Committee heard more about the proposal during a meeting Wednesday. A study completed by North Carolina State University was presented, explaining in part how such a plan would work.

The Chief Deputy Secretary of North Carolina's Department of Transportation has emphasized that state leaders are just reviewing options to raise more revenues to cover escalating costs for road construction, repairs, and expansion with a growing population.

However, cost already has many vehicle owners in North Carolina slamming on their brakes.

Bill Heckstall, who lives 10 miles from the Tennessee border, says he crosses the border to fill up there instead.

"Let's put it this way, I can put in three more gallons in my car there compared to here, because of the gas tax," he said.

"I'm open to it, but I'd like to make sure it's just and doesn't affect people with less resources more," Durham resident Bobi Gallagher said.

The board has plenty of its own concerns, one of which is privacy. Tracking drivers' mileage could mean the state installs a GPS device on your car.

"I don't think everybody should know where I'm going, I mean that's my business," Greensboro resident Annie Corpening said.

There are other proposals on the table, such as lifting the cap on gas taxes. The board stressed these are all just proposals. There was no vote Wednesday.

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