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St. Pete, Pinellas County agree to revenue split for potential gas tax hike

Margie Manning

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Photo by sippakorn yamkasikorn on Unsplash

The City of St. Petersburg could get about $2.7 million in additional revenue annually to pay for sidewalks, bridges and other transportation capital improvement projects under a gas tax hike being considered by the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners.

The tax hike proposal would add up to five cents a gallon to the price of every gallon of motor fuel sold in Pinellas County. County commissioners are expected to decide over the summer if they want to levy the additional tax.

On Tuesday, county commissioners agreed to a plan that would split tax proceeds between the county and municipalities, if the additional tax is enacted. Under that plan, the county would get 60 percent of the tax revenue collected. St. Petersburg would get 15.33 percent of the proceeds, Clearwater would get 6.69 percent, Largo would get 4.79 percent, Pinellas Park would get 3.07 percent, Dunedin would get 2.14 percent, and other municipalities would get smaller amounts.

The St. Petersburg City Council voted to approve the revenue split last week.

Pinellas County currently collects a six-cent gas tax and is allowed under state law to collect up to an additional five-cent tax, Claude Tankersley, St. Petersburg public works administrator, told the City Council on May 20. Thirty-six Florida counties, including Pasco, Manatee and Sarasota, already collect the full 11 cents although Hillsborough County does not, he said.

Fuel tax revenue has remained relatively flat for years, as cars have become more efficient and hybrid and electric vehicles become increasingly prevalent, but the city’s capital improvement transportation needs have risen steadily, Tankersley said.

“Every year, we have about $18 million in [capital improvement] projects that we cannot pursue,” he said. “We fear that with this continued gap we will start to see a significant increase in our level of service for transportation issues.”

The city could cut expenditures to match revenues and leave projects unfunded, or it could subsidize transportation projects from the general fund, at the expense of other city services. If Pinellas County enacts an additional five-cent tax, it still wouldn’t close the $18 million gap, but it would help, Tankersley said.

“We know that new sidewalks and sidewalk reconstruction, which are both eligible, we’re far behind on those. We know that we struggle to find money for bridges. Our comprehensive plan has that we are supposed to be milling and resurfacing 110 miles per year in the city. We’re getting only about 40 done. There’s a lot of needs. There’s more needs than revenue and the good part is that if this goes forward, we get to choose where that revenue will go,” he said.

The additional revenue could only be used for capital improvement projects, not maintenance, he said.

Gas taxes are paid by both residents and non-residents of Pinellas County. County Administrator Barry Burton said about 40 percent of the gas tax revenue comes from people who don’t live in the county.

Pinellas County commissioners have until Oct. 1 to notify the state if the county plans to enact the additional tax. It would take effect Jan. 1, 2022 if enacted.

County commissioners are expected to discuss the possibility of enacting the tax in July when they take up the proposed budget for fiscal year 2022.

Separately, the Pinellas board on Tuesday approved an agreement that transfers several miles of county roadway to the city of St. Petersburg. The transfers are designed to better define right-of-way maintenance responsibility in areas where jurisdictional boundaries are shared, county officials said.

The agreement includes Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street North from 34th Avenue North to North Roosevelt Boulevard and Central Avenue from Sunset Drive to 34th Street South. The county will make a one-time payment to the city of nearly $1.8 million to resurface Central Avenue segments that were programmed in the county’s pavement management program.

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Chris Morrison

    May 26, 2021at3:17 pm

    Read my lips…NO NEW TAXES! PCC vote no on this tax, or we will vote you OUT!!! Make due with what you have! NO MORE TAXES!

  2. Avatar

    JOHN DONOVAN

    May 26, 2021at5:32 pm

    Crying poor because gas tax revenue is flat? Tax revenue can be fungible. Real estate has been a massive driver of economic activity in St Petersburg for the last 10 years. Try using some of what must be an enormous annual increase in real estate tax revenue under current ad valorem rates.

  3. Scott Bitterli

    Scott Bitterli

    May 27, 2021at11:20 am

    I’m pretty sure it’s Claude Tankersley, not Clyde.

    • Margie Manning

      Margie Manning

      May 28, 2021at6:39 am

      The story has been updated. Thank you.

  4. Scott Bitterli

    Scott Bitterli

    May 27, 2021at11:24 am

    NO NEW ROAD/BRIDGE/SIDEWALK REPAIRS!! Make due with what you have.

    Does that make sense? I don’t think it does. More cars on the road, means more need/money for maintenance.

    There’s an easy way to not pay these proposed taxes. Don’t buy gas. It’s totally your choice.

  5. Avatar

    David Edwards

    May 27, 2021at11:54 am

    My dad bought a condo 3 years ago for $40,000. Your property tax is now over $1,000 per year on that one little condo!!!

    Enough is enough!

  6. Avatar

    James Hoppes

    May 28, 2021at7:52 am

    We don’t need to be further taxed. Enough is enough. I’m tired of struggling because of taxes.

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