Pasco County Commissioner Kathryn Starkey once again is suggesting that the county stop giving hotel developers a break, when it comes to mobility fees.
At a budget workshop on Jan. 16, Starkey told her colleagues that when the board previously changed its mobility fee schedule, she had recommended that the fee waiver be dropped for hotel rooms, but that didn’t happen.
With or without the tax break, Starkey said she believes hotels would continue to come to Pasco.
“I think we give a $5,000 discount per room for mobility fees for our hotels. That’s a lot of money to go toward road construction, that could be helping us build those roads,” she said.
Pasco’s fee waiver is so attractive, she said, “People are coming in and building hotels and flipping them after they’re built. They can make a profit and I feel like they’re making a profit off of our mobility fees.”
Commissioner Jack Mariano appeared to be reluctant to eliminate the tax break. He thinks hotels play an important role in the county’s tourism economy.
Providing the mobility fee tax break, he said, “sends a great message: ‘We want you to come.”
But Starkey countered: “We need the roads, too, there’s a balance.”
The discussion arose, as board members considered how they can encourage development in places where they want it to go, but at the same time possibly cut back on incentives they’ve used to encourage growth.
County Administrator Mike Carballa asked the board if there are areas where they are currently providing incentives but may wish to go in a different direction.
“Do we still want to incentivize the larger stuff?
“Maybe we want to reserve the right for certain targets,” he said.
Carballa also noted: “There comes a time when your incentives are no longer needed.”
Both Starkey and Commissioner Seth Weightman said there may be areas in the county where incentives are helpful, but other areas where they are not needed.
Weightman put it this way: “The county is so unique. Is there a way we can keep the incentive in certain places and then we expire it elsewhere?”
Carballa responded: “I mean, you incentivize what you want to incentivize. It just becomes a business decision.
“We’ve got areas that maybe we don’t need to incentivize, maybe there are areas that we still need to continue to incentivize. Let us come back to you with some suggestions on that,” the county administrator said.
Published February 07, 2024