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Pasco wants city growth to pay its way

The first time Pasco County officials heard that Tallahassee wanted them to help pay for improvements to the state road system, they were stunned. After all, they reasoned, state roads were the state's responsibility. Making the county come up with cash was absurd at best and extortion at worst.

Eventually, though, the County Commission agreed to raise its transportation impact fees and send part of the proceeds to the state Department of Transportation (DOT).

Now Pasco officials face a similar brand of resentment themselves. They have proposed extending the collection of the county's road impact fees into Pasco's six municipalities.

Not surprisingly, city officials feel pushed around.

"I think there's a great deal to be desired in terms of public relations," Zephyrhills City Manager Nick Nichols said recently. "The county comes up with these things and they don't take the time or the effort to treat the municipalities as peers."

Nichols is not alone. Other city officials have complained that the county is meddling in their business. Faced with such grumbling, county commissioners voted Jan. 3 to wait four months so their staff can talk to the cities.

Since then, both sides have begun inching toward a settlement. City officials concede that Pasco needs a way to make development pay for easing the strain it puts on roads, but several issues still have to be worked out. They include: