Escambia County Pensacola

Escambia County Commissioners reject counter proposal on gas tax

July 20, 2016

The Escambia Board of County Commissioners did not approve the revised interlocal agreement on the local option gas tax that the Pensacola City Council approved last week.

The BCC last week approved two interlocal agreements regarding the gas tax. The first agreement agreed to allocate to the City of Pensacola nearly 7 percent, $590,000 per year, according to a state formula based on the transportation expenditures in city’s audited financial reports.

Under the old agreement, the City of Pensacola was allocated 18.2 percent, and Mayor Ashton Hayward had asked the county to use an allocation formula based on population –which would have been about 15.62 percent.

In a separate agreement approved by the board, the county agreed to allocate an additional 8.6 percent out of the county’s share if the city agreed to pave the streets on the west side of the city as listed in an attachment given to the BCC. If the city failed to pave the streets, the county could terminate the agreement.

The Pensacola City Council was given a different agreement when CFO Dick Barker appeared before them on Thursday night. That agreement said the contract could only be terminated if both parties agreed to the termination.

As predicted, the BCC wasn’t happy with the counter.

At the agenda review yesterday, Commissioner Steven Barry said, “I’m not okay with any of the changes coming back to us.”

The new termination language bothered him. He said. “We’re not guaranteed another forum to make sure they do what they’re agreeing to do.”

Commissioner Doug Underhill questioned the wisdom of Mayor Hayward wanting to spend 10 years of the city’s gas tax in three years.

“What happens in year 8 when the city doesn’t have any money for roads because it has all been spent? asked Underhill. “At some point, someone in this county has to be a fiscal conservative.”

At regular commission meeting, County Attorney Alison Rogers recommended only one change to the original interlocal agreement sent over to the city last week. If the city completes all the work listed in the exhibits, then the county could not terminate the agreement without mutual consent.

All the commissioners were comfortable with the revision. However, Commissioner Lumon May asked for a delay until to the board’s August 4 meeting.

“I’ve had several of my constituents call and point out streets in their neighborhoods that should be included on the list,” said May. He said that the additions will only be four or five streets, but he needed the extra time to ensure he had a complete list.

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