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City Council votes to join Agawam in opposing gas tax

By Aimee Henderson, Staff Writer

HOLYOKE – The City Council voted 12-2 in its last meeting to join Agawam in a resolution opposing the suggested increase in gasoline tax by Gov. Deval Patrick. Voting against the resolution were Councilors Rebecca Lisi and Timothy Purington. Councilor Anthony Keane was absent.

“I just want to go on record opposing any increase,” said Councilor Patricia C. Devine, who originally submitted the order which read, “Ordered, that the Holyoke City Council go on record as opposing any increase in the gas tax in Massachusetts and a resolution that mirrors the Agawam City Council resolution dated Feb. 2, 2009 be sent to Governor Patrick.”

Lisi said she did not agree with opposing an increase in gasoline tax. “We need to invest in our public transportation,” said Lisi, adding that to oppose an increase would be a “disincentive” for people to invest in public transportation and the environment.

She said as more people invest in public transportation there would be less investment in personal transportation, eventually saving on emissions, and therefore helping to heal the environment.

Lisi said she could understand why her colleagues opposed the increase, but just didn’t agree.

“I think the idea of the city council is to ease the burden of high prices, and I can understand that because everyone is stretching these days,” said Lisi.

The Agawam City Council met on Feb. 2 during which time the councilors voted unanimously to send Gov. Deval Patrick a resolution opposing any increase in the gas tax. Agawam then sent a letter to the Holyoke City Council asking if they would join them.

“Our intent is to send a clear message to Governor Deval L. Patrick that we are opposed to the addition of a gasoline tax as it is not in the best interests of the taxpayers of Massachusetts,” wrote Donald M. Rheault of the Agawam City Council. “It would be more beneficial to get this message sent from the majority of the communities here in Western Massachusetts.”

The resolution submitted by Agawam suggests increasing tolls instead of the gas tax “if an increase is indeed deemed necessary.”

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