Gov. Haslam’s IMPROVE Act’s impact on Marshall County drivers

Friday, May 5, 2017

Marshall County drivers will see the impact of the Governor’s new “gas tax” locally with a $7 million revamp of four local bridges.

The update to the East Hill Avenue bridge over the CSX railroad will have a $859,000 price tag. The most expensive bridge to repair will be the US-31A (SR-11) Nashville Highway bridge over Rock Creek, which will cost approximately $3,542 million. Cornersville travelers will see the Hatchett Road bridge over the Hatchett River get some attention in the near future, too. It is projected to cost $547,963. Wrapping up the targeted bridge repairs in the county is the High Street bridge over Cane Creek. Its cost is estimated at $2,024,000.

Touted at “Tennessee’s largest-ever tax cut,” The House voted April 24 to adopt the Senate’s version of the bill, which prioritizes 962 projects across all of Tennessee’s 95 counties, addressing a $10.5 billion backlog in repairs and updates. The increased funding will mean that projects statewide will be phased in over the next 13 to 14 years instead of the 30-plus years that it would take without the increase. The legislation also includes a local option for municipalities to hold their own referendums for tax increases to fund local transportation needs and provides property tax relief to veterans and the elderly.

The IMPROVE Act creates a long-term, dedicated funding source to fix Tennessee’s outdated transportation infrastructure by making an increase to the user fees on its roads and bridges. The previously mentioned “user fees” refer to an increase in state taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel used in motor vehicles. Year one, the gasoline tax portion will raise the cost by four cents July 1, 2017, and add one cent per year over the next two following fiscal years. The total gasoline tax will eventually rise to $27.4 cents per gallon. Diesel fuel taxes will rise a total of 10 cents over three years, with four cents coming July 1, and a three-cent hike in 2018 and 2019.

Other tax cuts come with the package to make the gas tax taste a little less bitter. Taxes on food will go down. Business taxes and the Hall income tax will drop, too. Food taxes will drop from five percent to four percent. That translates into a $1 savings on a $100 weekly grocery bill. If you have a weekly 500-mile commute into Nashville and your vehicle gets 20 miles per gallon, then your weekly gasoline bill will rise $1 in July and go up an additional 50 cents per week by 2018.