Committee may be formed for gas tax |

Committee may be formed for gas tax

by Christy Chalmers

Douglas County may form a committee to check the feasibility of imposing a nickel-per-gallon gas tax.

The county commission, which in September approved presenting the tax to voters sometime in 2000, will consider forming an advisory committee Thursday.

A memo from County Manager Dan Holler says the group would be responsible for researching the feasibility and the need for the tax, and making a recommendation on whether to put the item on the ballot. Other options include phasing in the increase or imposing a lower increase.

If the committee recommends sending the question to voters, the group would be expected to assist in drafting a ballot question.

Holler’s memo says an advisory gas tax committee would be comparable to the committee that was used to promote a quarter-cent sales tax hike approved in 1998 to pay for several services. That committee, known as PALS because it represented a parks, airport, library and senior alliance, rallied support for the increase. In the current case, Holler says, the committee would give “a better feel for the community’s desire on the gas tax question.”

If the commissioners want to form a new committee, Holler is recommending the appointments be made in January, with a 30-45-day life span for the group. The committee would be asked to return with a final recommendation and possibly ballot language.

The commission would then decide when to present the question.

Douglas voters repealed a 5-cent gas tax in 1994. County leaders haven’t taken a formal stance on the current proposal, preferring instead to present information and let voters decide for themselves.

A 5-cent levy would generate an estimated $1 million a year that could be used to pay for county roads. Currently, the county has more demands for road projects than money to pay for them.

The county commission will meet at 1 p.m Thursday at the old courthouse, 1616 Eighth St., Minden.

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