Barker adds another wrinkle to gas tax agreement

The Pensacola City Council approved the gas tax allocation plan passed by the Escambia Board of County Commissioners with one significant change.

The BCC approved using the city’s audited financial reports to calculate the allocation of the local option gas tax over the next decade, but offered to an separate agreement for an addition 8.6 percent if the city committed to spending the funds on paving its most neglected neighborhoods on the west side of Pensacola. The combined share would get the city to the allocation Mayor Ashton Hayward had requested, which was about $1.3 million annually.

Mayor Hayward had proposed bonding the gas revenue funds and launching an ambitious plan to repave in three years those streets not repaired over the last 10 years. The map supplied with his resolution for the bond issue showed the vast majority of work would be done on the west side of the city.

City CFO Dick Barker last night proposed to the City Council an interlocal agreement that would not let the county or city cancel the agreement unless both sides agreed. In other words, if the city failed to pave the streets on the west side, the county commissioners could do nothing about it unless the mayor agreed to cancel the agreement.

The council passed Barker’s revised agreement, which must go before the County Commission. If the commissioners reject the new agreement or modify it, the Pensacola City Council will have to wait until its August regular meeting to take the issue up again.

If the city and county fail to agree by Sept. 1, the allocation of the gas tax will default to the county recommendation, without the additional 8.6 percent. If that happens, Barker told the County Commission yesterday that he would recommend Mayor Hayward file an administrative protest that could tie up the gas tax funds until the ruling is made.