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Road fee plan advances // Ordinance increases some charges, reduces others

The Pasco County Commission on Tuesday took the first step towardfulfilling a promise it made last month.

Commissioners introduced an ordinance that would overhaul the county's transportation impact fees - proposing to increase them a lot in some cases and to reduce them in a few others.

If the ordinance is adopted, transportation impact fees would be used to pay to build road improvements needed by new residents.

As proposed, however, the higher fees also would accomplish two things they now do not. First, they would raise money to buy the right of way needed for road improvements.

The increased fees also will include money to be used on state highways such as State Road 52, State Road 54, U.S. 41, U.S. 301 and U.S. 19. On Jan. 23, commissioners signed an agreement with the Florida Department of Transportation (DOT) promising to raise Pasco's impact fees and set aside part of the money for state roads.

Pasco already has some of the highest transportation impact fees in Florida, and the ordinance would increase substantially the fees for several types of buildings.

The fee for a one-family house or mobile home would jump from $1,735 to $2,166. The ordinance also would increase the road fees for buildings such as banks, restaurants, convenience stores and service stations.

In some cases, however, the fees would go down. Anyone putting up a nursing home, office building, motel, hospital or industrial building would pay a lower transportation impact fee than is now charged.

Why would some categories go down while others rise?

When county planning and financial officials drafted the ordinance, they refigured the amount of traffic that each type of building would be expected to generate. In several cases, they concluded that fewer people would be driving to and from the buildings than was estimated the last time the county revised its transportation impact fees in April 1988.

Under the agreement with the DOT, the increase is expected to raise $26-million over a 10-year period. That money will pick up part of the cost of making $190-million worth of improvements to state roads in Pasco County.

In return for a share of its transportation impact fees, the county gets a promise from state road officials: The DOT will not challenge development that may make its road temporarily more congested. In the long run, the county's construction industry will not be crippled by building moratoriums and the state will get money for construction projects.

The next step for the ordinance is expected to come when it goes to a public hearing tentatively scheduled for 9:30 a.m. March 20 in Dade City.

Also Tuesday, the commission took the first step toward repaving six streets in the Colony Heights neighborhood near Zephyrhills. The project covers 1.33 miles and would mean a new driving surface for residents who live along parts of 11th and 12th avenues as well as Avocado, Beech, Cypress and Dogwood streets.

The project carries a cost of $88,000. The cost would assessed to property owners along the streets to be repaved at a proposed rate of $690 per lot.

The commission is expected to take its final vote on the project after a second public hearing also scheduled for 9:30 a.m. March 20 in Dade City.