Commissioners offer Pensacola officials a settlement on gas tax dispute

The Escambia Board of County Commissioners has proposed a settlement of the 15-month dispute over the allocation of the Local Option Gas Tax. The proposed allocation is:

Escambia County 84.04%
City of Pensacola 15.15%
Town of Century 0.81%

In making the motion, Commissioner Grover Robinson said the City’s allocation was based on the transportation figures provide by the Hayward Administration. As part of his motion, Robinson included. “…conditioned on assurances from the City of Pensacola that it will complete the improvements that the city has already identified in their map, and this map would be a part of it, as the 2017 Street Rehabilitation with city groups identified seven, eight, and nine, dated Nov. 9, 2016.”

This past summer, Mayor Ashton Hayward filed an appeal with the state over the original allocation that included a separate interlocal agreement tied to the 2017 Street Rehabilitation. The Governor’s office recently assigned the case to Florida Division of Administrative Hearings.

Commissioner Robinson lamented the City’s unwillingness to negotiate last summer and the mayor’s propensity to take a legal route to resolve the matter. Mayor Hayward had forbid the Pensacola City Council to discuss the issue in the joint meeting with the BCC in late January.

“I would say it’s a huge issue. I mean, also, to show citizens we should have been able to do this with the city, in the city/county meeting,” said Robinson. “This is nothing more than agreeing to those factors, and agreeing to things they’ve already put forward in writing to the citizens. So they should not have any problem with what we’ve submitted to them. Again, we should be resolving this here in Pensacola without sending this to Tallahassee to be resolved by somebody else.”

Commissioner Lumon May echoed Robinson’s sentiments

“Commissioner Robinson. I, like you, represent a large portion of the city, and I certainly don’t want money caught up in legal fees, when that money would rather be in the city coffers or the county coffers, and could be used for the betterment of all of our citizens,” said Commissioner May.

Will Mayor Hayward present the proposal to the Pensacola City Council next week? The mayor has placed on the agenda: 17-00177 SIX-CENT LOCAL OPTION FUEL (GASOLINE) TAX SETTLEMENT , but he provided the council no supporting documentation.

The Pensacola City Council never got to discuss the original offer in July 2016. CFO Dick Barker didn’t present it to them. Instead, the mayor recommended a different proposal, which the BCC rejected.

Stay tuned.