May 22, 2017 08:47 AM

If you're using it, pay more for it.

Image courtesy Airman 1st Class Andrew Lee/Wikimedia Commons

If you’re going to use it, you should be willing to pay more for it. It’s what I call a “user tax.”

This long-held belief is the reason I strongly support funding mechanisms like toll roads, and it's why I favor not only the proposed 17-cent increase in taxes on a gallon of gasoline but also an additional 3-cent local gasoline tax dedicated to locally owned road and bridge infrastructure.

Our road infrastructure is deteriorating rapidly, and the cost to maintain it is skyrocketing — with the backlog of needs at $12.7 billion (Louisiana has the sixth oldest gasoline tax in the nation). Those who don’t fill up their vehicles and use the infrastructure won’t be affected by the increase, but those who use the roads daily to conduct business — putting extra wear and tear on our infrastructure — will pay more of the maintenance tab for keeping streets, highways and interstates safer for everyone.

Governing magazine reports that already this year governors in California, Indiana and Tennessee signed laws to raise fuel taxes, bringing to 22 the number of states that have passed laws imposing higher gas taxes in the past five years. The federal government has not raised the gas tax in 23 years.

The idea of a local tax is a challenging proposal, because at present local governments cannot increase their gasoline tax. However, cities in other states have done it, so we know it’s an option. Local residents should have more control over how their tax money is spent.

Kirby Pécot is an architect living in Lafayette.

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