Charleston passes Diesel Tax

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Final tally won’t be confirmed until Friday but unofficial results show 256 in favor and 42  opposed.

Measure needed two-third majority (66.7%) to pass. It got 85%

Charleston City Manager Richard Goode was pleased by the outcome and applauded everyone who voted.

“It was nice to see people just vote,”said Goode on Wednesday. “I talked with a number of people (Tuesday) and did not care how they voted. It was just good to see people care enough to take the time to do so.”

City officials took a proactive stance in efforts to inform the public about the measure before the election. It paid dividends, according to sources familiar with the campaign. Before the tax was put on the ballot, the City approached the local truck stops and trucking companies and explained how the tax would work. This work beforehand resulted in no active opposition to the measure.

Goode released a statement to the press: ”

In a special election held on Tuesday, August 4th, Charleston voters overwhelmingly approved a two cents per gallon tax on diesel fuel sold in the city limits. 256 people voted for the tax and only 42 voted against it. By state law, the measure needed a two-thirds majority, or 66.7% of the vote. Final results showed that 85% of voters supported the tax.

Charleston has two voting locations, one on the north side of town and one on the south. Voters at both locations supported the tax in about the same proportions. Absentee ballots were also heavily in favor of the tax.

The nearly 300 votes cast were more than expected by City Manager Richard Goode. “In a special election like this one, on a hot day in August, with nothing else on the ballot, you really don’t expect very many people to vote. But, the state sets the dates cities can do these elections, so we don’t have much of a choice. I was glad to see three hundred people vote. Regardless of how they voted, I was glad to see them vote.”

Voting results showed that 230 people voted at the north precinct (United Methodist Church) while 53 people voted at the south precinct (Assembly of God Church). There were 15 absentee ballots cast.

The diesel fuel tax will take effect October 1st and will apply to diesel fuel sold “at the pump” within the city limits. It will not apply to bulk sales of diesel fuel and will not apply to unleaded gasoline at all.

By state law, money from the diesel fuel tax can only be used for street repairs, street lighting, street cleaning, and policing of public streets. The tax is expected to generate $350,000 annually for the city’s Transportation Fund.

“I am really proud of Charleston voters for doing this,” Goode said. “It makes a big difference for the city. No one likes taxes, including me. So, this was a difficult decision for voters to make. We appreciate the support they have shown for the city and the trust they have placed in us to use the money correctly. We don’t take that lightly.”

Mississippi County Clerk Hubert DeLay, Jr. will validate the outcome of the passage of the measure Friday at the Courthouse in Charleston.

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