Pasco homeowners behind in their paving assessments can save thousands of dollars of interest under a new program.
County commissioners Tuesday approved the discount plan to help residents who have fallen behind and to boost the county's beleaguered neighborhood repaving program. The program is $16 million in arrears — including $7 million in delinquent payments from homeowners.
Under the repaving program, communities can petition the county for road work if they agree to a decade-long financing schedule. The program fell behind after residents failed to keep up with the payments.
The discount approved 5-0 by commissioners last week allows delinquent residents to save 70 percent of the interest they owe if they pay the principal off within 60 days. The discount declines 10 percent every month after that and is good only for one year starting at the date residents are contacted by the county.
"This is a one-time discount," Commissioner Jack Mariano said.
Commissioners took the unusual step because the repaving program needed a lift after falling so far behind it was in jeopardy of collapsing. At first, staff recommended a 50-percent discount on the interest, but Mariano pushed for 70 percent after hearing from homeowners who owed more than their houses were worth.
"A lot of these delinquencies go back years ago when the interest rate was 12 percent," he said. "This is really meant to help those residents."
Commissioners approved another change to the program as well: Neighborhoods new to the repaving program must pay for road work through their property tax bills, instead of through separate assessments. The charges will be added to tax bills each year for 10 years.