Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

New gas tax fails in Pasco County

DADE CITY — Pasco drivers will catch a break at the pump after county commissioners Tuesday were unable to muster enough votes to approve an increase in gas taxes.

Commissioners debated raising the tax by 5 cents, then proposed a 3-cent or 2-cent hike when it became clear that not enough commissioners would back it.

Four votes were needed for passage, but two of the five commissioners opposed the increase: Henry Wilson and Jack Mariano.

Mariano had come out against the tax weeks ago. Wilson, who signaled some support initially, said he couldn't support it "in these economic times."

The increase, as proposed at 5 cents, would have raised the local option tax, or gas tax, to 12 cents from the 7 cents Pasco drivers now pay for a gallon of gas. That would have put Pasco at the top in the Tampa Bay area.

"My worry is if we do nothing, our roads will deteriorate and we will pay more," said Commissioner Kathryn Starkey, who proposed the increase.

The decision followed a lengthy public hearing in which opponents told commissioners how any increase will pose a hardship, especially to seniors, the poor and businesses.

Officials initially grappled with a 5-cent increase, but scaled back the proposal after citizens vented their frustration.

"It would add to the already economically burdened, to those underemployed and seeking employment," Tammy Kennedy of Wesley Chapel said. "Gas is a vital part of getting to work or to hospital appointments."

About 40 people testified during the 3½-hour meeting. Opposition to the tax ran about 5 to 1. Those backing it said it was needed to improve county roads.

"Pasco County has made a huge investment in its roads. If you have an investment like that, you can't just let it fall apart," said John Hagen, president of the Pasco Economic Development Council. "It would be like buying a Cadillac and deciding to not change the oil."

The tax, if approved at the full 5 cents, would have cost drivers an average of $67 per year.

The levy would have raised an estimated $5.9 million between January and September if the full 5 cents was approved. Most would have gone toward the county's road maintenance fund.

After a peak of $8.9 million in 2008, the fund is now at $6.3 million. Because of the cuts, the number of workers to maintain roads has dropped from 90 to 40. Responding to a call to fix a pothole, which used to take seven days, now takes 47 days.

"We've dug ourselves into a hole," public works director Mike Garrett told commissioners.

The vote preceded a separate public hearing about a proposed increase in the millage rate. That hearing was the first of two this month connected to next year's $1.16 billion county budget.

Officials are proposing to raise the rate for the general fund, which pays for county operations not supported by fees, from 6.862 mills to 7.344 mills. The municipal fire service unit, which pays for fire and rescue services, would go from 1.541 mills to 1.717 mills.

A mill represents $1 for every $1,000 of taxable value. So, for the owner of a home valued at $150,000 with $50,000 in exemptions, the two changes would translate to an $82 tax increase.

New gas tax fails in Pasco County 09/10/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 11:19pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tributes pour in for ex-national security adviser Brzezinski


    WASHINGTON — Well before he went to the White House in 1977, Jimmy Carter was impressed by the views of foreign policy expert Zbigniew Brzezinski. That Carter immediately liked the Polish-born academic advising his campaign was a plus.

    Foreign policy expert Zbigniew Brzezinski died Friday.
  2. One year after deaths, Sunset Music Festival kicks off with emphasis on water and security

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — Before the beat drops, or even builds, you hear Steve-O.

    "If you don't get water you're lame!"

    "Hey! Free water! Come on!"

    Steve "Steve-O" Raymond motions to guests making the line to grab free water bottle at the entrance of the Sunset Music Festival on the grounds of the Raymond James Stadium parking lot in Tampa. ( LUIS SANTANA   |   Times)
  3. Twins eventually cash in as Rays lose, fall back to .500 (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — The Rays could only battle their way out of trouble for so long Saturday afternoon before succumbing in a 5-2 loss to the Twins.

    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 27: Brian Dozier #2 of the Minnesota Twins celebrates hitting a two-run home run as Derek Norris #33 of the Tampa Bay Rays looks on during the eighth inning of the game on May 27, 2017 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the Rays 5-3. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) 700010973
  4. Rays Tales: The stories behind Corey Dickerson's ascension

    The Heater

    The 25 pounds DH/LF Corey Dickerson lost during the winter through diet and exercise are considered the primary reason for his ascension to one of the American League's most productive hitters, going into the weekend leading in hits, multi-hit games and total bases, and ranked in the top five in average, runs and …

    Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Corey Dickerson (10) connects for a sac fly, scores Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Steve Pearce (28) in the fourth inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, June 15, 2016.
  5. Fans in Florida and beyond won't forget Gregg Allman

    Music & Concerts

    The end can come quickly for those who live fast and live hard, who create worlds with their talent and sometimes come close to throwing them away.

    This Oct. 13, 2011 file photo shows Gregg Allman performs at the Americana Music Association awards show in Nashville, Tenn. On Saturday, May 27, 2017, a publicist said the musician, the singer for The Allman Brothers Band, has died. (AP Photo/Joe Howell, File)