|(courtesy of John Pritchett)|
In 2013, the guys and gals from the land of midnight payhikes enacted a massive gas tax increase giving the Keystone State the highest gas taxes in the nation. At that time, legislators also authorized counties to impose a $5 "local use fee" on vehicle registrations, so long as the money is used for transportation. So far, 14 counties have enacted this additional tax.
"This is a user fee," argued Cusick, adding that roads and bridges have been a core government function since the days of the Roman Empire. "The question is how to we pay for this need," he said. "One option is real estate taxes. The other is this user fee."
Cusick also noted that enactment of this measure would mean $1.4 million in additional revenue for bridge repairs. The money could also be awarded to municipalities that need to make road repairs.
When the matter came up for a vote last July, Council voted it down in a five to three vote. Bob Werner was absent that night.
In December, the idea was resurrected because Executive John Brown had embarked on an aggressive bridge repair plan. But the matter was tabled without discussion.
Though it's gone down in flames twice, Cusick has placed what really can only be called a tax hike on the agenda for tonight's meeting.
The reason is because PennDOT really wants counties to impose this new tax. So much so that it has promised $2 million to each county that imposes this registration hike. What's really going on here is that state legislators want county officials to take the heat, in an election year, for adopting an unpopular tax. This should be taken off the table and voted down so that Cusick is unable to sneak it back on the agenda again.
Updated 10:25 am: I originally reported that 11 counties have adopted this fee, but the number is actually 14.