Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City Could Track Your Driving to Tax It; as Cars Get More Efficient, Gas Taxes Becoming Less Effective

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City Could Track Your Driving to Tax It; as Cars Get More Efficient, Gas Taxes Becoming Less Effective

Article excerpt

Byline: David Bauerlein

As the Jacksonville City Council heads toward a vote on extending the local gas tax, Mayor Alvin Brown has repeatedly said the city should look instead at "innovative ways" to pay for transportation.

Brown, who opposes extending the gas tax, hasn't put forward any specific proposal.

But City Councilman Stephen Joost says he thinks the coming wave of technology will usher in the future use of electronic boxes that track how many miles a vehicle is driven and charge the owner accordingly.

The state of Oregon, for instance, decided this year it will start a pilot program in 2015 that uses mileage meters to bill drivers based on how many miles they drive, rather than how much gasoline they pump.

"The income stream is changing before our very eyes," Joost said.

He said the city should wait until the local 6-cent per gallon gas tax is closer to its 2016 expiration date before deciding whether it should be prolonged.

But City Council President Bill Gulliford, who plans to soon file legislation extending the gas tax, said he's more interested in what the city's transportation needs are today.

"I think Mr. Joost may be out there on the cutting edge of technology and all that may well be true, but it's not the here and now," Gulliford said. "The here and now is we've got $100-plus million worth of projects that really need to be done. Along with those roads, we still have a heck of a lot of maintenance that needs to be taken care of."

Brown agrees with Joost that the gas tax is increasingly inefficient because vehicles are getting better gas mileage, said David DeCamp, spokesman for the mayor.

Brown isn't backing any particular alternative, however. DeCamp said the mayor would want to examine the specific features of any proposal.

Florida also is keeping an eye with what happens with the Oregon pilot program, which would use volunteer drivers to test charging people based on their miles driven. …

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