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Legislature to vote on eliminating gas cap tax

June 25, 2008
MAYVILLE — When the County Legislature meets this evening in Mayville, all 25 members will be concerned about one thing — gas prices. The legislators’ concern is whether to leave the county’s gas tax cap in place or repeal the legislation that caps the sales tax after the first $2 on a gallon. The cap went into place two years ago and was supposed to decrease the price of a gallon of gas by around six cents. However, some legislators say gas prices in the county are similar, or even more expensive, than surrounding counties where there is not a cap. But other legislators say if the cap is removed, it will guarantee higher gas prices and a tax increase for local residents. Whether the cap will be eliminated or not is still an unknown, with both the county’s majority and minority leaders unsure of the possible vote outcome. ‘‘I’m not in favor of eliminating the gas tax cap,’’ said Maria Kindberg, D-Jamestown and majority leader. ‘‘The reason is very simple — I’m not in favor of any new taxes.’’ Kindberg said the elimination of the gas tax cap will most likely mean an increase in the price of gas. ‘‘I’m not willing to take that risk with prices as high as they are now,’’ she said. Fred Croscut, R-Sherman and minority leader, said it might mean an increase in gas prices, but removing the gas tax cap will mean an increase in county revenues. Darin Schulz, county finance director, said removing the cap, which wouldn’t go into effect until Sept. 1, will mean an additional $400,000 in revenues for the county in 2008. ‘‘I think we need to remove it to get that revenue,’’ he said. ‘‘The cap isn’t saving our county taxpayers the money we though it would.’’ Last week, the resolution to eliminate the cap was passed by both the Administrative Services and Audit and Control committees. In other business, the legislature might discuss possibly increasing the salary of the Sheriff’s Department’s captain. Last month, the legislature tabled a motion to increase the salary range for the captain because two of the six lieutenants he supervises made more money last year than their supervisor. According to county information, the captain in 2007 made $70,440 while the lieutenants averaged $70,381. However, because of vacation and night pay bonuses, two of the lieutenants made more money in 2007 than the captain. If the salary range was to be changed, the captain could potentially make between $1,700 and $1,800 more. Croscut, who was against the salary range increase last month, said he is now in favor of the motion because people need to be motivated to take supervisors positions in county government. ‘‘We need to encourage people in government to take on management positions. If there is no incentive for these people to do managerial positions, that will hurt county government,’’ he said. ‘‘Once I realized that, it helped change my mind.’’ Kindberg said she is unsure whether or not the motion will be untabled. However, she said she is willing to discuss the subject again if it is untabled.


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