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Pasco Republicans oppose gas tax increase plan

11:01 PM, Sep 8, 2013   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, Florida -- Pasco County commissioners could vote to approve or deny a 5-cent per gallon gas tax increase on Tuesday, Sept. 12.

Since it was announced that the proposal was in the works, there has been a group opposing the idea.

"In our office where we have five phones working, people are calling every day," said Bill Bunting, Pasco County Republican state committeeman.

The organization has flooded the airwaves with television and print ads urging residents to "Ax the Tax."

If the plan were to be approved, the money would go toward road maintenance. They county said it is running low on funds to make repairs like fix potholes and mow grass.

Since 2008, the Road & Bridge budget, which funds road maintenance, has been reduced from $8,934,327 to $6,308,147, a reduction of $2,626,180 annually.

But those opposed say raising the gas tax is not the option, and will make things worse for the average Pasco County resident.

"Everybody that's got a food delivery truck is going to gas up. Your air conditioner guy, your lawnmower guy," said Bunting.

The county said the increase will cost each resident an extra $70 per year; Bunting said that number is severely underestimated.

"Everybody else I'm speaking to, if you got a Ford 150 or a bigger tank and you're gassing up, they're talking about a couple hundred dollars," he said.

Bunting offers alternatives such as the money from home sales.

"So you've got the money that comes in from an ad valorem that can cushion the blow and they can disperse that money as they see fit."

Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Pasco counties all have a 7-cent gas tax.

If Pasco approves the increase, that number would jump to 12 cents, which is the max allowed by state law.

Commissioners could vote during a public meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday in Dade City.

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