New Gas Tax Begins in Escambia County
As of New Year's Day, gasoline is four cents per gallon more expensive in Escambia County, thanks to a new tax aimed at funding public transit.
Passed 4-1 by the Escambia County Commission in late 2012, the levy is expected to raise about $4 million annually for Escambia County Area Transit, or E-CAT. That proceeds will go into a dedicated account, and replace money from the general fund.
The levy applies to gasoline only; diesel fuel is exempt.
Part of the three-hour debate dealt with an amendment from Commissioner Grover Robinson, aimed at a parallel reduction in the property tax. That was projected to return about $1.2 million to property owners, but in the ensuing months after passage, that seems to have been forgotten.
The Century Town Council resisted calls from the County Commission to sign an interlocal agreement to allow collection of the gas tax there. Mayor Freddie McCall pointed to his town’s proximity to Alabama, saying residents would simply go over the state line for gas that’s four cents cheaper.
Escambia County Financial Director Amy Lovoy said the gas tax is estimated to generate between $50,000 and $75,000 dollars annually from the Town of Century. Lovoy concedes that’s a drop in the bucket compared to the overall four million dollar total – adding that Century’s chance for an exemption was not that great.
In the end, Century’s opposition to the gas tax became moot. When Pensacola – Escambia County’s largest municipality – approved the tax, then by law Century was automatically included.