Make us your home page
Instagram

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

Loading...
  1. This Lemon Blueberry Bundt Cake is ready for breakfast, dessert or your next party

    Cooking

    This week, food critic Laura Reiley offers thoughts on the Bundt cake, and why it and other retro desserts are making a comeback. Read that story here.

    Lemon Blueberry Coconut Bundt Cake. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor.
  2. Our president, our protests

    Blogs

    Our president has done more to foster national anthem protests than the protestors.

  3. Trump: Objection to NFL protests 'has nothing to do with race'

    National

    MORRISTOWN, New Jersey — President Donald Trump insisted Sunday that his opposition to NFL players kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality "has nothing to do with race" but …

    President Donald Trump speaks to reporters upon his return to the White House in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017. Trump insisted Sunday that his opposition to NFL players kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality "has nothing to do with race" but has to do with "respect for our country and respect for our flag." [Associated PRss]
  4. World War II vet, 97, takes a knee in support of anthem protests

    Human Interest

    SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — On a day when NFL teams grabbed the nation's attention by coordinating demonstrations during the national anthem, a 97-year-old World War II veteran went viral with a solitary show of support for the protests.

    Brennan Gilmore posted a Twitter picture Sunday morning of his grandfather, John Middlemas, kneeling while wearing a veteran's cap. [Twitter]
  5. Florida education news: Shelter duty, charter schools, teacher pay and more

    Blogs

    ON THE JOB TRAINING: Michael Vasallo learns how to run an evacuation shelter on his 21st day as principal of Dunedin Highland Middle School.

    First year principal Michael Vasallo, right, got called into hurricane shelter duty one month into his job.