Brevard leaders consider raising gas tax

Brevard County commissioners on Thursday decided to postpone a vote to increase the gasoline tax, after around 25 people spoke out during a public hearing. Commissioners want to hold more workshops on the issue. 

The need to repair roads in the county drove one commissioner to propose the tax increase. "We are in a situation where we haven't been maintaining like we should and we need to get the proper funding," said Commissioner Jim Barfield.  

Brevard County residents already pay taxes of six cents a gallon on gas, but Commissioner Barfield would like to increase it by another six cents, generating around $8 million in road repair revenue.

Many residents spoke out against the proposal.  "I say no new taxes until the impact fees are reinstated," said Carol Hamilton.  At times, it was emotional. Sylvia Sanchez said, "I just feel like we're squeezed and squeezed by government, and everything keeps going up and up, and frankly, I have a hard time every month putting food on the table for my child and paying for my medicine and how much more are we gonna be squeezed."

Commissioner Barfield said a person who drives 12,000 miles a year, would end up paying, $36 more in gas tax. Some said it's worth it, if it means better roads. One resident said, "I'm willing to spend 10 cents a day, so they have less time in traffic, and I'm willing to spend 10 cents a day, so they have fewer repairs on their cars.  So I encourage all of you to pass the gas tax increase"

Barfield hopes the meeting will provide some direction in dealing with this road issue. He just wanted permission to advertise for a future hearing.  In the end, commissioners decided to postpone a decision until February.

"It's been going on for years, where a decision hasn't been made. They keep studying and keep studying it and we're at the point where we have to make a decision that's why it elevated to this."

Commissioners plan to schedule workshops with the public and hope to have a better idea of what to do by February.