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Placebook: Is North Carolina Ready for A Vehicle Mileage Tax?

My car parked. Will it be parked more because of potential new VMT?

My car parked. Will it be parked more because of a potential new VMT?

Yesterday I linked to an article that mentioned that the NC DOT has decided to study the implementation of a Vehicle Mileage Tax (VMT). I thought it was an April Fools joke. I was wrong. For those of you out of the loop, this is a tax collected by a meter either placed on your car or along roadways to register how many miles you drive. You then pay taxes based on how much you drive. This would replace the fuel tax that we currently pay at the pump and raise more money for transportation needs.

While this has become the preferred method of taxing drivers of many of my urbanist and good governance friends, I’m concerned that we as a state just aren’t quite ready to make the switch. First of all, we don’t have reasonable alternatives to driving in 90% of the state. The kinds of folks who would avoid this tax by not driving tend to be affluent or at least not burdened by having an extra or higher tax, work at home, or within walking distance from their jobs. Yet, many of the jobs that pay low, such as restaurants and warehouses, as well as  many offices that pay a normal wage and require daily attendance, require a significant drive. While gas prices would drop under this plan, the taxes would be shifted and possibly increase under this plan, causing pain to even those who are somewhat well off, but not able to absorb a higher tax bill.

Which wouldn’t be so bad, if all that new tax money went to creating and strengthening transit, putting in more sidewalks and even to incentives for offices and other non-industrial grade businesses to move into easily walkable areas, so that people don’t have to drive as much. I however, don’t trust the state government in its current iteration to funnel the money properly. The article alludes to the state government considering this tax only because we are in budget shortfall for our current vehicle-related tax methods. Also, we are just adjusting to toll roads, and that’s in the populous and relatively affluent cities of the state. This tax could essentially turn every road into a toll road, in a time where salaries and wages are not keeping pace with our expenses. Things could change, as this measure is studied and tested, but right now, if it were implemented today, I believe it would be an extra burden.

And with that, today’s news:

Wake County Schools has filed suit to recover 1 million dollars of bond money from Wake County.

The state feels confident that the food stamp backlog is behind them. Guilford’s DSS named an interim director and also criticized the state for sending mixed messages about whether or not the backlog is really gone.

The City of Greensboro will not appeal to the state utilities commission to get their tree ordinance back. Everything else that happened last night can be found by searching for #gsopol on Twitter.

What’s going on in the Triad area restaurant and food scene.

Suggestions on how High Point can remain an events center year-round.

Wilmington residents are picketing for higher firefighter and police salaries.

Managers at the Hamilton Forest owned by N.C. State University may have violated the Clean Water Act.

A Southern Season is still planning to come to Charlotte.

The DOT has hired a firm to count ballots placed in a vote to determine whether or not to build noise walls on Charlotte’s I-277.

UNCG’s new pedestrian tunnel under the railroad bridge has opened. UNC-Chapel Hill has opened a new imaging research building.

Citizens and police assess Fayetteville’s Massey Hill Neighborhood, which as soon as ten years ago was ground zero for major crime activity.

Durham’s Parkwood Volunteer Fire Department has fired its chief and is restructuring as it’s been threatened with budget cuts.

Cumberland County Schools will eliminate 80 jobs next year, 50 of those teaching. New Hanover County Schools has established its teacher tenure process.

Durham’s Human Relations Commission is nearing the end of its investigation into Durham police tactics.

A former Durham school board member has suspended his legal action after losing in a runoff election, that has raised questions about the election process for school board leaders.

Harnett County Commissioners have stopped their legal action against a local shooting range.

If statewide film incentives are not increased, it may cause the loss of 4,000 jobs, according to a recent study.

Brunswick County Schools may change their daily start times for students.

A Wilmington man will be helping plant the White House Kitchen Garden.

And finally, North Carolina natives, let us be proud of how we talk.

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