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Road Needs May Lead to Higher Taxes

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RALEIGH — North Carolina is looking for ways to pay for road construction and repairs. The solution may mean more taxes for everyone who drives.

The state's Transportation Finance Committee is considering a plan that could increase state tax on gasoline, nearly double the vehicle registration fee and raise a number of other driving-related fees as well.

If all the possibilities were enacted, it would bring in $540 million in new revenue the first year alone.

The state's drivers are not expected to welcome the proposals -- although they want relief from traffic tie-ups, and roads and bridges need maintenance.

Rep. Dan Blue (D-Raleigh), a member of the committee, says citizens may have to get involved in the issue. He says it has been known for 10 to 11 years that the repair fund can not take care of the road upkeep.

The new revenue would be devoted to new roads, repair of current highways and development of mass transit. If the committee approves the plan, the proposals would be brought before the entire General Assembly.

TheN.C. Department of Transportationhas estimated that $300 million per year is needed just for repairs to the 78,000 miles of roads maintained by the state. That is the second highest number of miles in the country.

Among the possibilities:
  • Adding two cents to the current 23-cent a gallon gasoline tax
  • Raising the annual vehicle registration fee from $20 to $36 (the last increase was in 1983)
  • Increasing the $2.50 annual driver's license fee to $3
  • A 23 percent increase in truck licenses and international registration fees
  • Increasing the highway use tax on buying a vehicle from the current 3 percent to 3.5 percent
  • Eliminating the trade-in allowance on buying cars (the current process allows residents to pay taxes on the difference in price between their new car and the trade-in. The change would calculate the highway use tax on the full value of the new car).
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    Mark Roberts, Reporter
    Keith Baker, Photographer
    Kay Miller, Web Editor

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