House panel weighs excavation tax hike

A bill that would increase the state excavation tax from 2 cents to 50 cents a yard looks like it may be buried after lobbyists for the industry showed up in state House Municipal and County Government Committee on Tuesday.

“I think they are going to kill it,” said Rep. James Martin, R-Carroll. Martin however still thinks the tax should be raised, and would like to, well, excavate it.

“It’s so low now it’s more trouble to collect it then its worth,” he said.

Martin said that the cheapest material – sand – sells for $6 to $7 a yard, so the tax would amount to about 8 percent, a few percent lower than the timber tax.

Under Martin’s bill, half of the money raised would go to the state, resulting in about $4.5 million of revenue a year and about $4 million to municipalities (after they subtract administration costs.)

On Tuesday, those in the construction industry reminded Martin that the low rate was part of a deal reached several years ago that would include unmined material in assessing the real estate tax. Martin said he wasn’t aware of the deal but still thinks the tax should be raised.

“I don’t want to put anybody out of business, but at a lower rate, this is pretty small potatoes,” Martin said. – BOB SANDERS

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