Monday, May 21, 2018
News Roundup

Hernando commissioners raise gas tax to pay for public transit, road improvements

BROOKSVILLE — Effective Sept. 1, Hernando County motorists will pay an additional 3 cents per gallon in gas tax.

The County Commission on Tuesday approved the increase to provide a dedicated source of funding for Hernando's fixed-route public transit system, THE Bus, upgrades to the bus service, ongoing road paving maintenance and dollars for a few road improvement projects.

While the commission voted unanimously for the increase, several commissioners expressed angst over having to raise taxes.

"This is a struggle for me,'' said Commissioner Jeff Holcomb.

Holcomb said he couldn't see putting the burden on property owners with higher property taxes, but liked the concept of the gas tax as a user fee.

"If you use it, you pay for it. It just seems the most just way to handle it,'' he said.

"We have to maintain our roads,'' said Commissioner Wayne Dukes, noting it was the first time he felt obligated to vote for a tax increase.

Commissioner Diane Rowden said she supported both maintaining roads and public transit. She also noted that for all of the comments her fellow commissioners made about supporting the transportation infrastructure, they had previously failed to do so by delaying the restoration of transportation impact fees that were levied on new construction and opposed by the politically powerful building industry.

Last year, commissioners voted to upgrade service on the THE Bus. They agreed to add a new route serving Spring Hill Drive and Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport, connect the existing Purple Route to Pasco County public transportation and run buses on a 60-minute headway rather than 75 minutes.

It will cost an additional $319,881 to make those changes.

Commissioners had several choices on how to pay.

In the past, county transit services have been funded through a portion of the property tax known as the Transportation Trust Fund. Raising the money for the improvements could have been done with an increase in that tax rate.

Commissioners preferred the gas tax option.

The county staff said the county could pay for transit with what is known as the "ninth cent" of gas tax. The county charges that ninth cent, but it is dedicated to residential road maintenance. If it were used instead for transit, the county would need to find another funding source for maintenance.

Currently, the county is charging only 2 cents of the 5 cents of gas tax the state allows for capital projects and residential road paving. The added 3 cents will bring in an additional $1.74 million annually.

Besides deciding to keep the road maintenance program, commissioners looked at a list of major road improvement projects that the extra gas tax money would help pay for, including the often-talked-about intersection of Cortez and Mariner boulevards, with a $6.25 million price tag.

After paying for the maintenance program from a portion of the new gas tax revenue, just under $1 million a year would be available for such projects.

County officials had hoped that their half-cent from last year's Penny for Projects sales tax referendum would have funded some of the big-ticket road projects that have been sitting on the "to do" list. But voters soundly rejected the sales tax.

Contact Barbara Behrendt at [email protected] or (352) 848-1434.

Comments
Porn actor accused of shooting up Trump hotel appears in court and immediately admits to a crime

Porn actor accused of shooting up Trump hotel appears in court and immediately admits to a crime

Jonathan Oddi, the stripper and porn actor who stormed the Trump National Doral resort and got into a gunfight with police, won’t be getting out of jail anytime soon.A Miami-Dade judge on Monday morning ordered the 42-year-old Oddi held without bond....
Updated: 3 minutes ago
Forecasters monitoring system in Caribbean as rain brings river flooding to Tampa Bay

Forecasters monitoring system in Caribbean as rain brings river flooding to Tampa Bay

More tropical showers and thunderstorms could be headed to Tampa Bay as a low pressure system that is developing in Western Caribbean waters is expected to track up through the Gulf of Mexico, promising more rain for an already soggy region. Much lik...
Updated: 16 minutes ago
Stanley Cup-bound Vegas turning impossible into possible

Stanley Cup-bound Vegas turning impossible into possible

LAS VEGAS — Welcome to Impossible.Those words have been projected onto the ice in big, bold letters at T-Mobile Arena before each game during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Well, the Vegas Golden Knights are turning impossible into possible.The stun...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Parents score victory in effort to make travel safer for Westchase students

Parents score victory in effort to make travel safer for Westchase students

TAMPA — Hillsborough County school leaders call it courtesy busing, but to Lauren Hawkins it’s more a matter of life and death.More students living close to their schools in the Westchase community used the Hillsborough school district’s courtesy bus...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Lightning one win from Stanley Cup final

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Lightning one win from Stanley Cup final

The Lightning plays in Washington tonight with a chance to close out the series and advance to the Stanley Cup final. Tom Jones joins Rick Stroud to talk about the game and why Andrei Vasilevskiy and the defense is playing so well.Plus, the...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Softball: Scouting the Admiral Farragut vs. John Carroll semifinal

Softball: Scouting the Admiral Farragut vs. John Carroll semifinal

Admiral Farragut (17-5) vs. John Carroll Catholic (11-11)When/where: 4:50 p.m. Monday at Historic Dodgertown, Vero BeachHow they got hereAdmiral Farragut defeated Naples St. John Neumann 17-0; defeated Bradenton St. Stephen's 3-1John Carrol...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Cyclists in fatal cougar attack did ‘everything they were supposed to do’

Cyclists in fatal cougar attack did ‘everything they were supposed to do’

SEATTLE — The two mountain bikers did what they were supposed to do when they noticed a mountain lion tailing them on a trail east of Seattle. They got off their bikes. They faced the beast, shouted and tried to spook it. After it charged, one even s...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Starbucks: You don’t have to buy coffee to sit in our cafes or use our restrooms

Starbucks: You don’t have to buy coffee to sit in our cafes or use our restrooms

Starbucks is now allowing people to use its restrooms and sit in its cafes and patios even if they do not buy anything.The coffee giant on Saturday announced its new policy, which says that customers, including those who did not make a purchase, can ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Lava from Kilauea volcano enters ocean, creates toxic cloud

Lava from Kilauea volcano enters ocean, creates toxic cloud

PAHOA, Hawaii — White plumes of acid and extremely fine shards of glass billowed into the sky over Hawaii as molten rock from Kilauea volcano poured into the ocean, creating yet another hazard from an eruption that began more than two weeks ago. Auth...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Why the Buccaneers’ 2018 schedule isn’t as bad as it seems

Why the Buccaneers’ 2018 schedule isn’t as bad as it seems

Saints, Eagles, Steelers.Three games against three playoff teams to open the NFL season.Who in the league scheduling office did the Buccaneers tick off?What an injustice!Or not.Maybe the league did the Bucs a favor.Would you rather face the Saints, E...
Updated: 3 hours ago