Your editorial (Opinion, April 26) made some good points: a gas tax on the ballot at the same time as a public safety levy probably doesn’t bode well for the gas tax. However, you do note the high price for repairing a 1,500 foot section of road, and that the revenue raised doesn’t come close to covering the need. And, finally, you note that the issue has been kicked down the road for years and that the city has very few options available.
But I believe your conclusion is wrong. There certainly is a rationale for the 5-cent amount: and being a good (convenient) place to start is part of that rationale. If we continue to kick the can down the road, we’ll just delay the inevitable. The simplicity of a 5-cent tax is also part of the rationale. A “sliding scale” would add complexity and therefore cost to implement of the tax, and less to devote to what we really need: street maintenance.
Yes, it’s also true that a nickel a gallon would have been a lot less painful when the price was closer to $2. However, streets continue to degrade, and they do so independently of the price of fuel.
Even when gas was $2 a gallon we didn't have the political will to do what's necessary. Do we have the political will now?
There is no easy answer. There never has been. There is not a "black or white" solution. It will take a combination of resources, a gas tax being one of them. A “street utility fee," which would dedicate revenue to street maintenance and repair, is almost certainly part of the solution.
But any set of solutions will require political will and backbone by council members to do what’s necessary for the community. Of course, that is easy for me to say: I'm not running for re-election.
Albany City Councilor, Ward II (April 26)