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Columbia County Observer

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Columbia County News

County 5 Chairman Ronald Williams In Favor of 5¢ County Gas Tax Hike: 4 of The 5 silent

 A 5¢ gas tax will make Lake City/Columbia County gas the highest priced in the region.

Columbia County 5COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Yesterday morning, in another 9 am budget workshop that froze out the working public from attending, the County 5, The 5, met to discuss funding Columbia County into the future, specifically next year. Massive spending, both current and proposed have The 5 scrambling for sources of revenue. One source that will impact Columbia County's working families is a proposed 5¢ hike in the County Gas Tax.

County Manager Dale Williams explained, "How much additional gas tax is available to the County? We have up to 5¢ which we can levy by law, which we have currently not levied."

The County gas tax is now 7¢. A 5¢ increase will move the County in the direction of charging some of the highest gas prices in Florida, as well as maxing out the local tax in a county which is labeled as a Rural County of Critical Economic Concern, which means among other things that its average salaries and family income are below the state level.

Approximately 65% of Columbia County's school children are, because of family income, on free and reduced lunch.

Studies have shown that a third of the gas purchased in Columbia County is purchased by people passing through. That leaves County residents purchasing 66% of gas purchased in the County.

A 5 cent gas tax hike is estimated to raise $1,950,058. After the required revenue sharing, it is estimated that the County would see $1,392,341.

To hike the gas tax would require a super majority of The 5. A public referendum is not required.

County Chairman Ronald Williams was the only Commissioner that commented on the gas tax hike.

He said, "Poor people pay more for gas than rich folks. That don't make sense, but that's the beast of the industry."

A few minutes later Chairman Williams said, "I will support a gas tax [hike]... A user's tax is the best tax there is."

The Columbia County 5 from left to right: Chairman Ronald Williams;
Commissioners Rusty DePratter; Bucky Nash; Stephen Bailey; Scarlet Frisina


Comments  (to add a comment go here) 

On April 10, 2014, Bubba Twelvepack wrote:

I was looking at the Observer right after I took me a big swig of Budweiser yesterday and damn if it didn't make me blow beer right out my nose and all over the keyboard when I seen this article about adding on 5 cents to the gas tax. I had to check the date and make sure that article wasn't posted on April 1, for some kind of April Fool's Day joke.

I'll tell you something else that ain't no joke. That's a mighty fine little graph ya'll published to explain how this is going to measure up to the rest of the state and the nation, but ya'll left something out. You need to put on there another bar with that graph, that shows the median income that goes with each region. Point I'm making is simple. We're one of the poorest counties in the state, but we got to pay more than anybody else, looks like, to drive.

On top of that a professor from the University of Florida said we drive more miles in this county than any other county in the state. He's probably a nice enough fella, but he left out the fact that means we're spending a higher proportion of our measly incomes on gas than anybody else in the state already.

I'll tell you what, any of my buddies had him a 'workshop' to take more money out of my pocket every time he went in there, that place would get leveled pretty quick, but unfortunately ain't a backhoe around could take down one of these conceptual workshops our elected representatives like to have. Once they get their mind on taking some more money from us they going to do it, one way or another.

But you ask me looks like pretty soon won't be nobody around here can afford to drive on all these pretty new roads they building - specially if they keep waiting till the project is 2 years under construction to buy up some of the right of way, or to negotiate prices for $500,000 overruns and the like.

Any old boy knows that's how you get skint good when you trying to do some business. But looks like they don't much care bout that over at the Commission, cause whoever's responsible for that ain't responsible, far as I can tell. Us taxpayers are instead, and we get to pay the premium for mistakes somebody else got paid good money to make for us.

Nothing new about government trying to shake me upside down trying to get every penny they can out of my pocket, I guess. But at least when it's Washington doing it I don't have to look the folks doing it to me in the eye every day.


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