DADE CITY — The city's plan to impose a tax for modernizing it stormwater drainage infrastructure ran aground after officials missed a deadline.
After the commission voted unanimously Tuesday to hold public hearings on establishing a special utility assessment of $3.75 a month, or $45 a year, city officials learned from Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano's office that they had missed a March 1 deadline to file the necessary paperwork to begin collecting the tax.
"I feel confident that I can't collect the tax this year," Fasano said Friday.
The news was a blow to efforts to come up with funding for upgrades to a stormwater system that city engineer Gordon Onderdonk said is "inadequate" and susceptible to flooding. City officials planned to hold two days of open houses to educate the public on the need for the assessment with hopes of holding public hearings this month.
Instead, the tax must wait a year. That will give staff time to fine-tune the proposal further, said City Manager Billy Poe. He added that the city will continue the steps necessary to implement the upgrades, but will not begin charging customers until November 2015.
Poe said Friday he is "a little" disappointed with the delay.
"But it's an opportunity to fine-tune everything," he said. "It will give us an opportunity to fine-tune our numbers even more for our residents and business owners."
Estimates were that the assessment would generate $280,000 to go toward upgrades to the stormwater system. Even if the city had begun collecting this year, it was still up in the air when upgrades would begin.
Onderdonk told city commissioners that stormwater planning and construction can take years as the city will need permits and input from state and federal agencies.