Peculiar tries for fifth time on fuel tax

Special to The StarJuly 25, 2014 

Supporters of a 1-cent fuel tax in Peculiar aren’t giving up.

For the fifth time since 2009, Peculiar is asking voters to impose a fuel tax that would help the city upgrade its streets.

Voters turned down the measure by only about four votes in April.

City Administrator Brad Ratliff said Peculiar, a town of about 4,800 residents, has only about $150,000 annually to spend on streets. He estimates that the the proposed fuel tax would generate $100,000 more each year.

All revenue generated from the tax would stay in Peculiar and could be used only for construction, reconstruction, maintenance, repair, policing, signing, lighting and cleaning of roads.

The biggest hurdle has been the two-thirds majority required for passage.

In April, voters missed the required 66.67 percent by just half of a percent. Sixty percent of voters supported the tax in 2012.

Ratliff speculates about 80 percent of the revenue would be generated from motorists passing through Peculiar, primarily at the Flying J Travel Plaza near Interstate 49.

It’s estimated that residents would pay about $10 more a year per vehicle at the pump, if the tax is approved.

Citizens like Frosty Smith pushed the city to put the measure back on the ballot again.

Smith owns Peculiar Park Place RV park. With the truck stop and people filling up their RVs, he said, a local gasoline tax makes sense.

“It’s a no-brainer tax when you have all the outside people coming in paying the bill,” Smith said. “We’re in a unique spot.”

Following the flop in April, Ratliff said a handful of residents weren’t able to vote in that election. Two voters, who favored the tax, told city officials that they lived in Peculiar but were given county ballots because they were registered as rural residents.

The two were not allowed to submit provisional ballots.

The city is currently seeking a judgment in the Circuit Court due to the voting irregularities reported following the April election.

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