Cities still questioning propsoed Pasco gas tax change

Zephyrhills and Dade City officials are once again concerned about a county proposal that determines how local option gas tax revenues are divided.Pasco County municipalities initially opposed the county's plan to revise the funding formula because it would have cost the cities more than $700,000 per year. Chief Assistant County Attorney David Goldstein proposed the change at a May county commission meeting. He said that Pasco cities weren't spending enough of the gas tax money on roads.At the May meeting, commissioners agreed to let an interlocal agreement on a gas tax funding formula with the cities expire, potentially costing the cities thousands of dollars in funding. The interlocal agreement had been in force since 1985, establishing a formula for gas tax funds distribution determined by the number of road miles maintained within a municipality. The agreement is up for renewal at the end of August. Without a renewal, the tax distribution would be determined by the transportation spending of each municipality for the past five years, known as the historical expenditure method.Upset by the decision, Pasco County's six municipalities - the other four are New Port Richey, Port Richey, San Antonio and St. Leo - passed resolutions opposing the new distribution method.The commission agreed on a compromise that extended the current funding formula for another year.But city officials say they are concerned about the language of an extension amendment.They say it does not simply extend the current agreement, but adds additional language, and that language is a problem.Joe Poblick, city attorney for Zephyrhills and Port Richey, said a clause in the extension agreement is at issue.It reads that the "affected jurisdictions need additional time" to verify past numbers, spend more money and find other transportation funding sources."The clause, as it has been presented, gives the impression that the cities are in agreement with [the historical expenditure method]," Poblick said at the Zephyrhills City Council meeting Monday. "All it does is help their cause."Poblick said he talked to Goldstein about a week ago, but that he stopped discussions with him to get input from the council. Poblick has proposed adding an additional clause that states that the cities are not in favor of the historical method of distribution. He reported that Goldstein was not opposed to such a clause, but Poblick said Goldstein is on vacation. Goldstein could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.Dade City's City Manager Billy Poe brought the issue up before the Dade City Commission on Tuesday. He said the city commissioners had the same issues with the new language as did Zephyrhills officials."We pretty much followed Zephyrhills," he said.The two cities are waiting for the other Pasco cities to weigh in on the extension's language.
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