MMA letter to Revenue Committee urges support for local-option gas tax

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The Honorable Jay R. Kaufman, House Chair
The Honorable Michael D. Brady, Senate Chair
Joint Committee on Revenue
State House, Boston
 
Dear Chairman Kaufman, Chairman Brady, and Distinguished Committee Members,
 
On behalf of the cities and towns of the Commonwealth, the Massachusetts Municipal Association appreciates the opportunity to offer testimony in support of H. 1603, filed by Rep. Smitty Pignatelli and others that would authorize cities and towns to adopt a local motor fuels (gasoline and diesel fuel) excise of up to 5 cents per gallon that would be dedicated to local transportation and stormwater purposes. Adoption would be by the local legislative body. This is a priority bill for the MMA.
 
With the property tax and other local revenues strictly limited by state law, municipal officials are seeking alternative ways to help pay for local road and bridge projects and public transit services, and begin to cover the cost of stormwater management.
 
A 2016 analysis by the MMA found that cities and town need to spend more than $630 million annually to maintain local roads and bridges in a state of good repair. With Chapter 90 local road funding currently at $200 million, a local option motor fuels excise would help close the state of good repair funding gap. Well-maintained roads and bridges support local economies and economic development plans, and help protect the safety of motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.
 
This legislation reflects a growing municipal interest in alternative revenues for local infrastructure purposes. There were at least two “home rule” petitions filed for the towns of Lee and Charlton in the prior legislative session to authorize a local motor fuels excise, and there was also general local option legislation filed. H. 1603 is based on these earlier initiatives.
 
The federal stormwater (MS4) permit issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last year imposes new storm-water management obligations on cities and towns across the state. It takes effect on July 1, 2017. H. 1603 would provide a way for cities and towns to help pay for the maintenance of stormwater infrastructure and for the installation of new structures such as bio-swales and other types of green infrastructure to filter and protect waterways from road and parking lot run-off pollution.
 
Thank you very much for the opportunity to submit testimony on this legislation. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to have your staff contact me or John Robertson of the MMA staff at (617) 426-7272 at any time.
 
Sincerely,
 
Geoffrey C. Beckwith
Executive Director & CEO