Decisions made by elected officials on the City Commission and the Leon County Board of County Commissioners ensure that the approximately $4 million raised by the fuel tax increase approved in 2013 will not be spent on additional road maintenance.
This, despite the fact that one of the main arguments used to push for an increase in the tax was that the materials used to maintain roads -asphalt – is a petroleum based product that has significantly increased in price over the last five years and the revenue is needed to maintain the transportation infrastructure.
The City, which gets $2 million of the tax, decided late last year that the majority of their share of the gas tax will go to fund Star Metro operations.
At the September 17, 2013 meeting of the Leon County Board of County Commissioners, the Board approved an increase in fuel tax. The fuel tax begins January 1, 2014, and the County revenue is projected to be approximately $2 million the first year.
At that meeting the Board directed that one-half of the County’s revenues collected be used to reduce the current general revenue subsidy to the transportation program. In other words, half of the fuel tax collected, approximately $1 million, would not increase spending on transportation projects, but rather free up additional monies in the General Revenue fund.
The other half of the County’s portion of the additional five-cent gas tax revenue was to be set aside for the highest priority transportation capital projects.
On January 21, 2014, the Leon Board of County Commissioners considered a recommendation to allocate the remaining $1 million of the 2014 fuel tax towards sidewalks.
The County Staff presented the following recommendation:
A major roadway project will cost tens of millions of dollars, which dwarfs the projected revenue stream from the local option gas tax. It would require years of accumulation to fund a roadway project. In order to have a more immediate impact on meeting Leon County’s community’s transportation needs, staff is recommending that the local option gas tax be utilized to enhance the current funding for Community Safety and Mobility (additional sidewalk projects) and Intersection and Safety Capital Projects. These projects are eligible expenditures and tend to match the scale of the projected revenues.
The County Commission voted to accept the staff recommendation.