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A Monroe County lawmaker says the gas tax holiday is a missed opportunity to shift from fossil fuels

gas pumps
ramzi hashisho

Starting June 1, drivers will be saving a few cents on gas in Monroe County.

As expected, the county legislature passed a resolution to temporarily cap the county sales tax on gasoline on Tuesday by a 23-5 vote. County Executive Adam Bello signed it into law that same evening.

Depending on prices at the pump, drivers can expect to pay roughly 8 fewer cents per gallon until Dec. 1, when the gas tax holiday is set to expire.

Democrat Sue Hughes-Smith is one of five legislators who voted against the measure. She believes it won't bring meaningful economic relief to consumers and will probably increase gas consumption.

She said she might have voted yes to the cap if the county had redirected a portion of the tax savings to help transition the community away from fossil fuels.

She called the new law a missed opportunity.

"The state was already creating a savings of 16 cents per gallon for people," Hughes-Smith said. "Consumers are already going to see a reduction at the pump. So it just seemed like a moment in time when we could have said, 'Hey, let's take our 8 cents and let's direct it into solving this problem.'"

Hughes-Smith is still pushing for a dedicated county climate action fund, which she said could be funded by future gas tax revenues or other sales tax income.

She said that money could be invested in renewable energy upgrades for homes and buildings, conversions to heat pump technologies, and for the installation of electric vehicle charging stations. All of those measures would save consumers money long term.

Based on an estimated purchase of 124 million gallons of gasoline between June and Dec., Smith said $10 million in local sales tax revenue will be lost to Monroe County, the city of Rochester, and the other towns and villages that normally get a share of the money.

Beth Adams joined WXXI as host of Morning Edition in 2012 after a more than two-decade radio career. She was the longtime host of the WHAM Morning News in Rochester. Her career also took her from radio stations in Elmira, New York, to Miami, Florida.