Thursday, April 26, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Developers should share road cost burden

As the economy recovers in Pasco County and throughout Tampa Bay, the pressure to provide the roads and services to handle new development will return after years of being tamped down by the recession. The rising cost of accommodating growth in Pasco's southern and western corridors should not be borne exclusively by motorists and property owners paying higher taxes. Instead, the county should devise more equitable financing that would require developers to fairly share the increasing expense of building and maintaining local roads.

Pasco County commissioners on Tuesday got their first look at a proposal to increase the local option gasoline tax and approve an accompanying transportation property tax to raise up to $8 million annually for road construction and maintenance. The debate, which ended with no commission consensus, should have included requiring more contributions from developers as well. It's reasonable to raise the gas tax, but not without more fairly spreading the burdens of paying for growth.

Pasco abandoned uniform transportation impact fees in 2011 in favor of a sliding scale of so-called mobility fees that vary by location within the county. To drive jobs and population growth to the State Road 54/56 and U.S. 19 corridors, the county waives fees for such developments as employment centers and hotels, and assesses less expensive fees for new housing in those locations. The discounts, however, come with an increasing price tag. Road construction costs are up 20 percent over 2011, and planners now say the county will grow faster than projected, with Pasco's population nearly doubling over the next 25 years. To finance its long-term road network, the county said it needs a minimum of $5 million in additional money annually through 2040 and another $3 million a year to better maintain existing and future highways.

State law gives counties the option of increasing their local gasoline tax by up to 5 cents per gallon for road expenses. Twenty-eight of Florida's 67 counties, including Hernando, charge all or a portion of the local tax. Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco counties do not. A year ago, Pasco commissioners failed to reach the required four votes to increase the gas tax, and only three commissioners voiced strong support for it this week.

Commissioners correctly asked about reducing the geographic areas receiving the fee discount and about using reserves to buy road maintenance equipment. The search for alternatives is smart, but the focus remains too narrow. Local consumers already are underwriting $136 million worth of transportation and economic development expenses over the next 10 years through the renewed Penny for Pasco sales tax. Pasco is smart to look for more revenue to help pay for growth, but the burden should be spread more fairly and not be entirely on the backs of drivers and property owners.

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Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

A St. Petersburg waste-to-energy plant now under construction has been billed for years as an environmentally friendly money saver. Now it looks more like a boondoggle, with the cost and mission changing on the fly. It’s yet another example of a city...
Updated: 7 hours ago

‘Happy hour’ tax cuts may result in hangovers

Evidence is mounting that the $1.5 trillion tax-cut package enacted in December by congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump was a bad idea, not only for the long-run health of the economy but for the short-term political prospects of the ...
Published: 04/25/18
Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Writing a new law that phases out separate accreditation for the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and folds it back into the major research university was the easy part. The hard work starts today when a new consolidation task force holds i...
Published: 04/23/18
Updated: 04/25/18

Correction

CorrectionCircuit Judge John Stargel of Lakeland is a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission who voted against a proposed amendment that would have stopped write-in candidates from closing primary elections. An editorial Saturday inco...
Published: 04/23/18
Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Florida lawmakers may never take the death penalty off the books, but stronger forces are steadily eroding this inhumane, outdated tool of injustice. Court rulings, subsequent changes to law and waning public support have significantly suppressed the...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/24/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18