Town Meeting to weigh 5 cent local gas tax in Great Barrington

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GREAT BARRINGTON >> Hoping to recoup some of the infrastructure costs connected to road and bridge repairs in town, the Select Board has voted 5-0 to place an article on the annual town meeting warrant to impose a local gas tax.

The 5-cent per gallon tax would be earmarked specifically for improvements to bridges and roads in town. The town currently borrows about $400,000 annually to supplement state aid to cover the costs of the maintenance.

Although voters at the May annual town meeting must first approve the measure, the final say would rest with the state Legislature.

Lee voters approved a 3-cent gas tax last year, pending approval in the state Legislature of a home rule petition filed by state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli. That measure, as well as a similar bill that would allow any municipality to set its own gas tax, are currently languishing in Boston.

Great Barrington Selectman Chairman Sean Stanton estimated the tax could generate about $500,000 annually.

"I think if it's presented correctly, it won't be a tough sell," he said.

Selectman Daniel Bailly suggested a 3-cent tax would be more politically palatable.

"I think if you want this to pass, you go for 3 cents," he said.

Stanton pointed out that, for example, surrounding towns like Alford and Mount Washington don't have gas stations but use town roads. As do a host of tourists who enter and leave the town annually.

"I think those facts would carry some weight," he said.

Contact Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.


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