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Gainesville's ire against transportation bill not dying down
City leaders draw up resolution against state bill
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Gainesville officials have prepared a resolution opposing a $1 billion state transportation bill, even as the plan continues to be revised in the Georgia General Assembly.

City Manager Kip Padgett said the original proposal would have cost Gainesville about $1.1 million annually.

Changes to the bill would now allow local governments to add up to 6 cents per gallon in excise taxes on top of the state’s planned 29.2 cents per gallon.

The House Transportation committee took no action on the proposal during a hearing Thursday. The bill converts all taxes on gasoline to an excise tax dedicated for transportation. It also eliminates Georgia’s tax credit for electric vehicles.

“We’re OK with this (city resolution) because we adamantly oppose (the bill),” Councilwoman Myrtle Figueras said.

Municipal officials would have to agree to spend the money on specific transportation needs, with their share determined by a formula already in use by the Georgia Department of Transportation.

City leaders said these changes have not alleviated their concerns.

“It’s about as bad as the first bill,” Mayor Danny Dunagan said.

Officials said they would be dependent on Hall County to approve the additional 6-cent tax, and that the city would still lose money in the deal.

City officials also wondered how point-of-sale taxes would be divided between local governments. For example, does Gainesville receive all tax revenue generated by gas sales in the city?

Moreover, officials said, Gainesville spends about $800,000 annually to maintain right-of-ways and traffic lights on state roads, with that figure ballooning to more than $3 million when capital funding is included.

“That is bad,” Councilwoman Ruth Bruner said.

Sponsoring Rep. Jay Roberts, a Republican from Ocilla, says the bill remains a work in progress.

Meanwhile, Hall County Commissioner Scott Gibbs on Thursday also spoke out against the bill.

“I think it is a shell game,” he said during a Board of Commissioners meeting, adding the state is trying to fund transportation projects on the backs of local government.

Gibbs said if the proposal goes forward as currently envisioned, Hall County will likely have to raise property taxes to cover millions of dollars in budget shortfalls.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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