Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough County must pay road costs near new schools

TAMPA — Who foots the bill on road projects near new schools has been a thorny question that has divided two of Hills­borough's biggest governments for the past year.

A circuit court judge sided with the school district last week, ruling that if the road project isn't touching the property line of the new school, then the county should pay the tab.

The School Board "is not responsible" for paying for road projects unless the improvements are adjacent to, or run through, the school site, Judge Ralph Stoddard wrote in his Sept. 25 ruling.

No matter who pays, it's still taxpayer money. But Stoddard's decision clarifies an issue that fractured a relationship between the two governments that built at least 36 schools during the housing boom years of 2002 to 2006.

"We always thought the county and School Board had worked well together, and this ruling gets us back to that," said School Board attorney Tom Gonzalez.

The School Board balked at recent county attempts to shift road project expenses to the district, and sued Hillsborough County last year, saying needed school construction was being delayed. One project in particular, a $75-million campus in East Hills­borough, had frayed relations. The county said the district should pay more than $1-million in road improvements nearly a half a mile from the site. The board said since the improvements were so far away, it shouldn't pay.

Stoddard's decision came down to the definition of a single word: "contiguous."

Florida law states that school boards may spend money on road and sidewalk projects that are "contiguous" to school property.

The School Board had argued that it didn't have the authority to spend money on projects if they weren't touching the schools.

But Hillsborough County referred to Webster's New World Dictionary, which defines "contiguous" to mean "so as to be away, at a distance." Under that meaning, the district could, and should, pay for these improvements, the county argued.

While Stoddard acknowledged that Florida law was ambiguous on this matter, he concluded the best definition of "contiguous" was found in Black's Law Dictionary: "touching at a point or along a boundary."

Therefore, Stoddard wrote, the county had no authority to impose any conditions on school construction that require road improvements from afar.

Assistant County Attorney Robert Brazel said he believed that Stoddard's ruling conflicts with state law, but said it was too early to determine if the county would appeal the decision.

Michael Van Sickler can be reached at (813) 226-3402 or mvansickler@sptimes.com

Hillsborough County must pay road costs near new schools 09/29/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 30, 2008 3:44pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Winner and loser of the week in Florida politics

    Blogs
  2. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect

    Bucs

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  3. Hopes fade after landslide destroys Chinese village (w/video)

    World

    Crews searching through the night in the rubble left by a landslide that buried a mountain village under tons of soil and rocks in southwestern China found 15 bodies, but more than 110 more people remained missing.

    Vehicles and people line a road leading to the site of a landslide in Xinmo village in Mao County on Saturday in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province. More than 100 people remained missing after the village was buried under tons of rocks and soil.
  4. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  5. Thousands converge in two St. Pete locations celebrating LGBT rights

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom Rockhill didn't know what to expect Saturday, but by noon people were knocking on the door of his bar Right Around the Corner in Grand Central.

    (From left to right) Emma Chalut 18, gets a rainbow sticker on her cheek from her sister Ellie, 15 both of Jacksonville before the annual St. Pete Pride parade in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday. This year the route was changed from the Grand Central and Kenwood area to Bayshore Drive.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]