Bill in house proposes giving county oil revenue for roads

Published 12:04am Monday, March 4, 2013

NATCHEZ — At a time when oil exploration in Southwest Mississippi is set to ramp up, the Mississippi House has passed a bill that would allow more revenue to be directed back to the area to repair roads and bridges impacted by oil work.

If adopted by the Senate, House Bill 1691 would allow for the direction of additional revenue garnered from oil excise taxes to Mississippi’s oil-producing counties, Rep. Robert Johnson (D-Natchez) said.

Johnson — who is the chair of the house transportation committee — said the oil-producing counties, of which Adams County is one, currently receive 20 percent of the excise revenues for oil taken from their borders. The bill will allow for a 3-percent annual increase in the amount of revenue the counties receive until it reaches a 33.3-percent cap.

Johnson said that would come to an extra $350,000 for Adams County next year.

“That money goes straight for the board of supervisors, and the spirit of the bill is for it to be used for roads and bridges because of the extreme use the trucks and rigs put to the road,” he said.

The increased revenue stream is timely in light of the increasing development of the Tuscaloosa marine shale in Wilkinson, Amite and southern Adams counties, Johnson said.

“Given what is happening with oil production all throughout Southwest Mississippi, this bill is most important right now because it is even more of a strain on our roads,” he said. “We have to keep those roads available for our oil production, but our citizens also have to travel on those roads as well.”

Similar bills have passed the House in the past, but were not taken up by the Senate, Johnson said.

“We are hoping that this bill will get fully vetted this time, and we will see it happen,” he said. “This is our first step in doing what we can about taking care of our roads and bridges.”