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Pasco County Commission votes down 5 cent gas tax hike

12:16 AM, Sep 11, 2013   |    comments
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  • DADE CITY, Florida - One after another, Pasco County residents lined up Tuesday night in opposition to a 5 cent take hike for a gallon of gas.

    "Our citizens cannot afford another tax," said one of the first speakers.

    "I'm just appalled you'd even consider raising taxes in these economic times," said another opponent.

    "Our infrastructure is both aging and falling apart. I am both aging and falling apart and I oppose this gasoline tax," said an elderly Pasco resident to the cheers of others.

    Those were just a few of the comments from a long line of concerned citizens dead set against paying any more at the pump.

    County transportation officials say the estimated $8.1 million the gas tax would raise is badly needed to repair the county's aging roads, fix potholes, and pay for street lights.

    "Some of our roads, I mean major roads, the street lighting is not there," said commissioner Pat Mulieri, who strongly supported the tax.

    Others worried a lack of funding for area roads would put years of investment into area roadways at risk, even causing safety concerns.

    "I've had to put in complaints about potholes and I've been told 45 to 60 days [to get them fixed] and that's creating a safety hazard in my community," said one speaker. "People are dodging these potholes and could very well hit a pedestrian."

    But in the end, commissioners supporting the tax could not get the four votes needed to charge a few cents more for every gallon of gas.

    "It was the wrong decision because we're going to go backwards," said Commissioner Mulieri. "We're not going to have a premier county."

    But Commissioner Jack Mariano disagreed, saying the roads would be fixed using funds from other parts of the budget. "We've got a lot of options we can still look at ... so I didn't see the dire need to actually do it."

    The three commissioners in support of the gasoline tax actually tried compromising first proposing a 3 cent tax, limiting it to just the next 5 years, and then even a 2 cent tax, before finally giving up saying, "Don't call them" when the county's roads start to crumble.

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