Marion County extends gas tax for 30 years

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MARION COUNTY, Fla. - Marion County leaders approved the extension of a six-cent gasoline tax that will last until the year 2043.

Channel 9s Berndt Petersen spoke with many drivers Tuesday who felt the 30-year extension to be excessive.

Every tank of gas Carolyn Roberts buys in Marion County will have the tax added to it.

"I'm speechless," Roberts said after being told about the tax extension.

At a public hearing, the Lake County Commission extended a tax that has now been on the books since the 1980s. It brings in about $7 million annually for street repairs.

"They also say that they use lottery funds for education, OK? And teachers take money out of their own pockets to buy pencils for students," said Roberts.

But officials insist that's the only funding in place to maintain 3,000 miles of county roads.

"If people are buying less fuel, we live on less dollars. That's what we do here in Marion County," said County Commissioner Stan McClain.

County and city leaders in Marion agree the tax needs to stay in place. But they don't agree on how to split the money.

"I kind of see adopting this as a cart before the horse strategy," said Dunnellon Mayor Nathan Whitt.

Whitt said the deal to divide it should have been decided before the tax was extended.

Driver Lori Muhlbauer said no matter how they divvy it up, she still pays it.

"Pay taxes and die. I guess that's what we have to do," said Muhlbauer.

County and city leaders will meet next month to decide how to divide the tax money. Some county leaders have hinted they won't be sharing as much with the cities as they used to.