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In a rather routine action that barely registered with the public earlier this month, county officials passed separate ordinances renewing two local fuel taxes for another six years each.
On Thursday, Aug. 1, the Jefferson County Commission adopted ordinances 2019-080119-01 and 02, the first imposing a two-cents local option gas tax on every gallon of motor fuel and special fuel sold in the county and the second imposing another two-cents local gas tax.
“Both are carbon copies of 2013 ordinances,” Clerk of Court Kirk Reams told commissioners when introducing the two measures at the public hearing.
The first ordinance will be in effect from Jan. 1, 2020, to Dec. 31, 2025; the second from Sept. 1, 2019, to Dec. 31, 2025.
The board's justification for extension of the two local option gas taxes is that the monies raised by these revenue streams are needed for transportation expenditures, meaning that the monies will go to fund the Jefferson County Road Department. Part of the funds from the first ordinance also are shared with the city.
The first ordinance imposing a two-cents local option gas tax on fuel sold in Jefferson County was originally passed in 1987, then extended in 1992, 1997, 2002 and 2008.
The second ordinance imposing a two-cents local option gas tax was first passed in 1994 for a six-year period then amended some months later from six to seven years. This later ordinance has also been periodically renewed every time it's about to expire.
Interestingly, when the first and second ordinances were implemented in 1987 and 1994 respectively, proponents argued that the measure would be short-lived. The late Commissioner Mordaunt Bishop, however, noted at the time that the taxes would likely be long-lived. Once the initial resistance was overcome and a tax imposed, Bishop observed, it was rare that it was ever repealed.
Time, it appears, has proven Bishop prescient.