By Rob Moritz
Arkansas News Bureau

LITTLE ROCK — Former gas company executive Sheffield Nelson said today he is re-drafting his proposed ballot initiative that would raise the state severance tax to enable cities to receive an additional $20 million for street repairs.

Also today, the Arkansas Municipal League voted at its convention in Hot Springs to endorse his revised proposal and to assist in gathering signatures to get the measure on the 2012 general election ballot.

“This is really, in my opinion, the best group you can get on your side,” Nelson said at a news conference. “They are elected representatives of the people in all 500 communities.”

Don Zimmerman, executive director of the Municipal League, said the organization’s leaders “recognize that when it passes, the revenue generated from these giant natural gas firms will dramatically help to serve the communities (they) represent.”

In March, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel approved Nelson’s proposed ballot initiative that would raise the severance tax levy paid by natural gas companies from 5 percent to 7 percent to raise money for highway improvements.

Under the plan, 70 percent of the revenue would go to the state Highway and Transportation Department and the remaining 30 percent would be divided between cities and counties.

Since his proposal was approved, Nelson said he has traveled the state and learned that that more money needs to be set aside for city streets damaged by trucks carrying heavy loads to and from the Fayetteville Shale play area, where the bulk of the natural gas production is occurring.

Nelson said the revised proposal he plans to file with the attorney general’s office next week would set aside $20 million of the total revenue generated by the severance tax just for cities. The remaining money would be divided the same way as his original plan.

Nelson said a panel created by Act 1032 of 2011 would then decide which cities and road projects would

Article source: http://feeds.stateline.org/~r/StatelineorgRss-Transportation/~3/JPZcDRMCI-w/