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From: John De Armond
Subject: Road Taxes and tolls
Message-ID: <>
Date: Fri, 22 Jan 93 16:59:13 GMT

stead@skadi.CSS.GOV (Richard Stead) writes:

>Absolutely.  Also, my understanding was that half the federal contribution
>to new interstate construction was from DoD (which is funded out of income
>tax).  That's why DoD got to dictate design criteria.

That went out in the 60s, Rich.  There was an excellent PBS show on
the history of the Interstates a few months ago that covered that in

>True, and I think the deficit problem needs to be addressed, but not
>with gas tax money.  To a certain extent, a somewhat broader directed
>gas tax could help with that by bringing political pressure to bear.

Now THAT is a very interesting tact.  "We'll slap on another tax to help
pressure us into not taxing so much."  Riiiight.  You want to bring
pressure to bear on government in a heartbeat?  Eliminate automatic
income and SS tax payroll deduction.  Let every citizen file
quarterly estimate payments like I do.  I'll guarantee that when
they start writing those thousand dollar checks, the pressure
will be overbearing.

>> It's supposed to read license
>> plates on cars as they whip past and monthly bills will be mailed to
>> users. Pretty neat.

>That's pretty remarkable.  I've heard of a number of automated toll
>systems (the company I work for does this kind of work in another division),
>but not one that can actually read the plates.

Except that it does not work that way.  I just called Ga-DOT to ask
(404 656 5267 if anyone is interested)  The way it will work is that
each "frequent user" estimates his monthly usage and purchases a
toll card for that amount.  This card is fastened to the windshield so that
a laser reader in the toll lane can read the barcode.  The toll is
deducted from the driver's account.  At the end of the month he is
billed for what he used.  Note that at no time is credit extended.
The state's not THAT dumb :-)  There are 9 lanes, all equipped with
laser readers.  Two lanes will be laser-only and can be driven
through at relatively high speed.  Several vendors have built systems
to Ga-DOT specs but a final one has not been selected as of today.

>> Local roads in Georgia are funded from property taxes. Since the roads
>> increase the value of our property by making it accessable, this is a fair

>Not entirely.  It is really a subsidy for new development.  I'm sure the
>developers in the state back this one all the way.  (Afterall, a 100
>year old home on an acre of land has paid for that road in front many times
>over, while a townhome complex has lots more road, all of it new and pays
>about the same).  It is also a subsidy by the cities to the 'burbs, since
>property values are higher in the city (so taxes are higher), while the
>long, new roads are in the 'burbs.

Great treatise, Rich, except you shot the wrong target.  Local road construction
is typically funded in Ga with a 1% sales tax surcharge that the voters
approve for either specific projects or sets of projects.  We tend to
exert close control over how this is spent.  In Cobb County, we voted
down a tax a couple of  years ago despite the great need because of
the way the last tax was spent.  After we kicked out the county commission,
we approved the tax.  I *like* the way that tax works.  *WE* tell the
government what to do and not the other way around.

>> tax. BTW police departments are net revenue generators in our state.
>> The costs of policing the roads are more than offset by the fines
>> collected.

>They must write a lot of tickets.  One officer with a police cruiser and
>radar costs about $200,000 a year (salary, benefits, car depreciation,
>maintainance and gas, radar depreciation, maintainance and calibration,
>distributed cost of officer training, etc.).  If the average ticket is
>$100, he'd have to write 2000 a year.  Figuring he spends half his time
>in court, then he'd have to write 2 an hour while on patrol.

Richard, you're pulling numbers out your ass again.  I just called
Cobb County Police (404 499 4101, Lt. Sisson) and asked what it
costs to have a Cobb County officer on the road for a year.
County police in the metro area serve the same role as big city police
elsewhere.  They are the main law enforcement body.  Here are the numbers:

*	The cop		$37,000	 (includes salary, benefits, training, uniform,
*   The Car     80,000-95,000 miles per year.  @ 0.20 a mile that is
                16,000-19,000 dollars a year.  Let's call it $18,000.
*   The Radar   $900, lasts 3-4 years.  Call it $200 a year.  Price
				includes a maintenance contract.  No additional costs.
*   The equip.  $5000 - radios, lights, back seat barriers, etc.
				Lasts several years and are moved from car to car.
				Let's call it $2500 per year.

That works out to $57,800 a year.  The average ticket in Cobb County
is $120.  The cop has to write 480 of those a year or about 1.3 a
day to break even.  The system is set up here so the cop normally does
NOT have to go to court.  If one pays the ticket, points are not
reported and it only takes one trip to court.  If one challenges it,
the case is automatically continued at least twice as a matter of court
policy and if you lose, you get points.  Only on the third appearance does
the cop have to appear and by then the victim has usually capitulated.
I go to court about 4 times a year to observe so that I can be informed
when the discussion comes up.  I'd guestimate I see perhaps 2 cops a day
actually testifying and those cases usually involve death or serious

The Marietta Daily Journal reported last year that Cobb County derives
approximately 20% of its operating revenue from this very efficient
system of fee grabbing.

Richard, if you can't get even within an order of magnitude with your
estimate in something simple like this, how can anyone believe you
on complex things like road tax? I've concluded that you are advocating a gas
tax based on ignorance and your on your emotional desire to remove some
cars from the road so you can bike easier.


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