The Pasco County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) board is looking at ways to fund future transportation projects — including the possibility of increased revenues from the Penny for Pasco program or amendments to the county’s mobility fee program.
Under the current Penny for Pasco program, which expires in 2024, revenues are raised through a one-penny surcharge for every dollar of sales tax generated within the county.
The tax revenue is divided among the Pasco County Commission, the school board and Pasco County municipalities. The county receives 45 percent; the school board, 45 percent; and the municipalities split 10 percent.
Of the county’s share, 18 percent goes toward transportation needs.
Existing revenue sources within the MPO’s 2045 Long Range Transportation Plan would amount to $3.2 billion, if Penny for Pasco was discontinued after 2024.
Under the 2045 plan, roadway needs are estimated at $7.6 billion – resulting in a deficit.
Wally Blain is a senior project manager at the Tindale Oliver company, which collaborates with the MPO.
Blain presented five scenarios, along with estimates of revenue they would generate, for the board’s consideration.
At a previous meeting, MPO board members considered options that would have allowed voters to renew the penny surtax, while at the same time, implementing an additional penny or half-penny on top. That idea was dropped because it was deemed to “not be a reasonable expectation” for voters to approve, the project manager said.
But, some MPO members expressed concerns about the new approach, too.
“For us to put that burden on future members is concerning to me,” said board member Mike Moore, a member of the Pasco County Commission. “I don’t think those scenarios should be there.”
However, Jack Mariano, also a board member who sits on the Pasco County Commission, had another idea: “I don’t want to cut the transportation down, but we want to look real closely at environmental lands. Maybe it’s time to build more trails [and] sidewalks.”
David Goldstein of the Pasco County Attorney’s Office stepped to the podium alongside Blain, to make a case for the new approach.
Goldstein affirmed that while the scenarios would not clear the deficit, they would result in substantial revenue growth.
MPO member Kathryn Starkey, another Pasco County commission board member, however, moved the conversation toward using mobility fees as a means of raising funds.
Mobility fees are charged to new development to help pay for the transportation impacts they create.
Starkey contends that the county waives fees for some commercial development that don’t need incentives to set up shop in Pasco.
“A source of revenue is to maybe not give discounts to fast food [restaurants] and only give it to targeted industries that bring high-paying jobs,” Starkey suggested.
But, Goldstein said the county commissioners should have taken that into consideration when working out the updates last year. The next mobility fee update is not scheduled for five years, he added.
Goldstein also said that removing incentives on restaurants and even hotels would not result in a significant boost in revenue.
The board took no action on the issue, and additional discussion is expected at the MPO’s August session.
Five scenarios for road funds
- Scenario 1: Penny for Pasco extends through 2045, with current surtax kept in place
(That would yield an additional $335 million)
- Scenario 2: Penny for Pasco extends through 2045, with a half-penny added in 2038
(That would yield an additional $398 million)
- Scenario 3: Penny for Pasco extends through 2045, with a half-penny added in 2028
(That would yield an additional $818 million)
- Scenario 4: Penny for Pasco extends through 2045, with one penny added in 2038
(That would yield an additional $796 million)
- Scenario 5: Penny for Pasco extends through 2045, with one penny added in 2028
(That would yield an additional $1.6 billion)
These estimates reflect the accumulated figures from 2025 to 2045, providing the penny program continued past 2024.
Published June 26, 2019