With the new month, comes the first Georgia gas tax increase, since 1971. "What you see with HB-170 is really a dedication by our legislature to say we need better for Georgia," says Natalie Dale, with Georgia DOT.
The federal Highway Trust Fund continues to shrink, with no long term solution in place. "We plan many years ahead and it's hard to plan projects that will make a difference in Georgia when we're not sure if we can rely on that federal funding," explains Dale.
Since 2009, Georgia has slipped from the state with the 9th best road conditions to 13th on that list. At the beginning of the year, Governor Nathan
Deal made transportation a priority. The new money will help with a long backlog of maintenance
"We're going to focus a lot of these funds on things people want us to do, we know they need us to do; re-striping, resurfacing, littler pick up, trimming back some of those lower hanging trees, mowing. We're going to make our state beautiful again and address some of those safety issues," she explains.
Starting Wednesday, Georgia's 7.5 cent excise tax and 4 percent sales tax will be replaced with a flat 26 cent excise tax. It should mean an increase of about 6 or 7 cents per gallon, on average. "Because this is an excise tax, it's paid at the wholesale level so it will largely depend on how it's passed on to the consumer," adds Dale
The money will also be collected through a new $5-dollar per night hotel fee, new fees for heavy trucks and a $200 dollar annual fee for electric
vehicles, which were once given tax credits.
"While it might take a bit of a growing pain, it's time for us to be able to return our roads to the condition that we're used to," Dale says.
AAA reports gas prices are actually trending down, and much less than last year during July 4th. They say you may not see an immediate change at the pump because some gas stations typically phase-in the price increase, and may have just stocked up before the increase.
House Bill 170 also gives counties the power to go straight to their voters to approve up to a 1-percent sales tax for local transportation projects.