Tuesday, June 19, 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.

Comments
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but it’s also suppression

The Supreme Court’s ruling last Monday to allow Ohio’s purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they haven’t voted, Ohio’s purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Editorial: Free rides will serve as a test of whether the streetcar is serious transportation

Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to ride for free?This fall, the TECO Streetcar Line eliminates its $2.50-a-ride-fare, providing the best opportunity yet to see whether the system’s vintage streetcar replicas can serve as a legitimate transportation a...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

AT&T and the case for digital innovation

A good way to guarantee you’ll be wrong about something is to predict the future of technology. As in, "One day, we’ll all …" Experts can hazard guesses about artificial intelligence, driverless cars or the death of cable television, but technologica...
Published: 06/14/18
Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

The Florida Department of Children and Families has correctly set a quick deadline for Hillsborough County’s main child welfare provider to correct its foster care program. For too long the same story has played out, where troubled teens who need fos...
Published: 06/14/18