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Pasco commissioners set preliminary rates for new road and park maintenance taxes

Pasco officials say their new road maintenance plan will extend the life of the county’s roads, provide a fairer way to pay for costs and bring the transportation network up to par with the growing community.

This will also increase the property tax bill.

In fact, the county’s property owners will face two new taxes on their tax bills later this year.

To help fund ongoing maintenance on county roads and parks, Pasco County commissioners this week approved preliminary tax rates that would add an additional $113 to the county’s property tax bill for the owner of an average home, whose taxable value after exemptions is $163,579.

These new taxes are expected to generate $8.2 million in revenue statewide for park maintenance and $24.8 million for road construction in the coming fiscal year.

This week’s vote is on a proposed increase, as final tax rates won’t be decided until the final public budget hearing in September. Other parts of the tax bill that passed for the first time this week include the general fund tax and the fire tax, both of which will remain at the same rate as last year.

Commissioners were also told that the county’s final taxable property values ​​increased slightly from the June estimate, up 14.1% from last year’s values. The increase since June brings an additional $5 million to the county’s coffers, 40% of which is earmarked for the sheriff.

Due to public interest in the new street maintenance tax, county officials held a press conference Wednesday morning to help citizens better understand the tax. The new tax replaces the previous rating system for residential street paving. That program required citizens to apply for work in their neighborhood and face an assessment specific to their community.

That original paving system came about at a time when rural areas of east Pasco didn’t want to participate in the road construction that would open up west Pasco, said County Commission Chairman Ron Oakley. One reason the commission supported eliminating that system was because it often pitted neighbors against each other.

County Administrator Mike Carballa said Wednesday the new paving system is fair and a “smart way” to maintain the roads.

Authorities directed citizens to learn about the new system on the county’s website, saying it is “a modern and equitable way to spread the tax burden for road construction projects throughout the county rather than imposing it on a specific geographic area. The new system provides long-term funding for incremental maintenance, helps extend the life of roads and avoids costly repairs.”

According to the county’s website, the funds will be used for “all Pasco County public roadway infrastructure improvements, road resurfacing and repairs, road signs, markings, and road-related drainage improvements such as culverts, ditches, etc.”

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Streets within the city limits of Pasco are exempt.

Part of the new plan approved Tuesday was the forgiveness of outstanding payments on previously approved paving levies, although the county is still owed past-due payments. Staff explained that the revenue loss would include $8.5 million in current principal and interest payments on ongoing paving levy projects and $4.5 million in future payments.

The new system involves a detailed assessment of roads across the county, establishing a priority list based on need and interim improvements to extend the life of a road before a complete resurfacing is required. This system includes both residential roads and roads that connect communities.

The first of two public hearings on tax rates and the county budget is scheduled for September 3 at 5:15 p.m. at the historic Dade City Courthouse.

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