EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP - Atlantic County Sheriff Frank Balles is opposed to a bill sponsored by state Sen. Jim Whelan, D-Atlantic -- whom Balles is running against this November -- that would tax motorists for every mile they drive in their vehicles.
Republican Balles, speaking at a news conference Thursday afternoon at Bennett Chevrolet car dealership on the Black Horse Pike, said the bill would hurt the sales of fuel-efficient vehicles in the state.
Balles said the state should continue using a gasoline tax to fund the state’s Transportation Trust Fund, which pays for repairs to roadways.
“I implore him to kill this bill altogether instead of trying to tax us again and again and again,” Balles said.
Balles said additional revenue to the fund is not needed. Though fuel efficient cars are becoming more popular, he pointed to a study by the federal Energy Information Administration that projects gas usage will remain at similar levels through at least 2035.
“We’re addressing an issue that doesn’t exist,” he said.
The bill S-2531, which Whelan presented on Feb. 4 as the lone sponsor, would enact a tax of 0.83906 cents per mile traveled on a vehicle. The motorist would be charged when the vehicle was inspected or sold. The money would go to the state’s Transportation Trust Fund.
Whelan declined to discuss the bill when reached by phone Thursday afternoon.
“We have a bill that’s out there for discussion,” he said. “If (Balles) wants to agree with it, it’s fine. If he wants to oppose it, it’s fine.”
Mullica Township resident Gary Stein, who is challenging Whelan for the Democratic nomination for the Senate seat, issued a statement Thursday imploring Whelan to hold a press conference to discuss the bill.
Stein also said the bill is “stigmatizing” the purchase of green vehicles.