Leaders in Pasco County consider gas tax

Funds would go to road repairs

NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. - "We pay way too much for gas right now, way too much," said Pasco County resident Kristina Dutille as she filled up her tank in New Port Richey.

Dutille says it costs her about $60 to fill up her SUV, and she can't handle much more.

"My husband's the only one working.  We have two kids at home.  It's rough.  You've got to budget everything."

But prices could go up even more in Pasco County, if leaders approve a nickel-per-gallon tax.

"What's another nickel?  The way this thing is going, it's like the stock market," said Pasco resident Charlie Moscatello.

The money is part of a proposed plan to make up for a large budget shortfall.

Officials say the money collected would be used for much needed improvements to roads and bridges.

Pasco County commissioner Henry Wilson said, "That's going to get your roads fixed the right way, back to 2008 levels.  That's what they are trying to do.  They say the $.05 gas tax will get us back to the 2008 levels of roads, so that's maintaining.  Because as we all know, we don't do the best job of filling pot holes."

That might be an understatement.  Officials say it takes an average of 72 days to fix a Pasco pot hole.

Wilson is all for getting roads fixed, but he is against the gas tax. He studying the budget to see where other cuts can be made.  "I'm looking for other ways before we do this because as we know, we are at the bottom of the economy.  But I don't think now is the right time to do it."

Along with the gas tax, Pasco County residents could also end up paying higher property tax rates. Those designing the budget say the money is needed to keep up county services, expand the jail, and the first raises for county employees in about six years.

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