Wexford Co. Road Commission, MDOT Discuss Gas Tax Increase of 2017

The price at the pump is about to go up.

The tax on gas will rise next year as a part of a plan signed nearly a year ago.

Legislators hope an increase in fuel tax will help fund much-needed patches to roads and bridges across the state.

But with a hike in tax comes a hike in concern.

9&10’s Cody Boyer and photojournalist Derrick Larr spoke with those who fix those roads and others paying to keep their cars running to feel out the pros and cons.

They have more details.

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When it comes to gas prices every year, people don’t generally like to see their gas prices go up, but they go up and down and with the gas tax increasing next year by 7.3 cents, some people don’t like it.

“Gas always seems to get the short sheet when it comes to issues like revenues."

It’s a part of that $1.2 billion plan to fix roads we keep hearing about.

And with the promise of prices on the rise, it’s your wallet that will feel the pinch.

“Any increase in gas prices is troublesome to us because people drive.”

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) sees the flip-side.

“This is going to mean more projects on our roads and bridges, the ability for MDOT to fix more miles each year,” says James Lake, Communications Representative for MDOT’s northern region.

The state gas tax will climb 7.3 cents.

That money will account for $400 million in new annual revenue.

“In past years, the legislature had appropriated additional general fund hours to state highways to match federal funds that were available,” Lake says. “That won’t be the case in 2017 but that new funding that will be coming in from the new package will make up that difference in the program."

“It is a good thing for Wexford County,” says Al Cooper, Wexford County Road Commission Manager.

County road commissions like Al Cooper’s in Wexford County see pros, too.

County roads will get 39% of the cut.

“We’re expecting about $600,000 for the year for the initial increase on this,” Cooper says. “It’ll buy maybe…partway through the year we’ll be able to use that money on the projects we have planned."

“I’m opposed to it but I understand if it happens, it’s got to come from somewhere, I suppose."

The full transportation plan for the $1.2 billion will not phase completely in until 2021.

That also includes an increase in registration.