MISSOULA — Missoula County commissioners recently introduced a resolution to place a 2-cent gas tax on the June 2 primary election ballot.
As of Monday, the commissioners have the support of the Missoula City Council, thanks to an 8-to-2 vote on the matter.
Council members heard from both proponents and challengers of the gas tax at their city council meeting Monday night. By the end of the meeting, majority ruled that the council will support county commissioners in placing the gas tax on the ballot come June.
Missoula Public Works director Jeremy Keene says revenue from the gas tax could tackle one to two additional rehabilitation projects for our transportation infrastructure each year.
When it comes to the impact on the public, Keene quoted the Department of Transportation, saying the average citizen drives about 13,400 miles per year, consuming 539 gallons of gas. Adding a 2-cent gas tax would come to about 11 dollars per year for the average driver.
While the numbers may not be earth shattering, opponents of the gas tax expressed concern that drivers will go out of their way to purchase gas before entering Missoula County, hurting local businesses in the process.
DJ & A Engineering President Chris Anderson spoke up at the meeting saying that regardless of where you stand, Monday's vote by city council was simply a matter of whether or not the citizens get to have a say.
“My question for you is ‘why would you not vote not to put it on the ballot?' That just doesn’t make a lot of sense,” said Anderson. “And it’s not even whether or not to put it on the ballot, it’s whether to write a letter of support to the commissioners to put it on the ballot. I would just encourage you to think about it in that context and then let the healthy debate ensue about whether or not this tax is right for Missoula County.”
Missoula County commissioners will vote on whether to adopt this resolution on Thursday.