Westchase residents hoping to save a little at the pumps could get a reprieve if Hillsborough County’s 6-cent local option gas tax is allowed to expire Aug. 31.
Don’t go spending the extra cash just yet though.
If the county allows the tax to sunset this summer, it could deliver a financial blow of about $22 million to Hillsborough’s budget, officials say.
The County Commission meets Feb. 14 in a workshop where it will hear preliminary budget figures for Fiscal Year 2014, which begins on Oct. 1, 2013.
That 6-cent gas tax is used by the county to fund road maintenance projects and transportation operations. Without the revenue stream, the county’s anticipated $3.2 million budget deficit would likely grow to about $25.2 million, said Tom Fesler, the county’s budget director.
While it’s still too early to tell if the commission will pursue an extension for the tax, Fesler says it’s quite possible.
Without the tax, “we’d have to look at some pretty significant reductions in our traffic area.”
Money from the tax is also used by the county’s municipalities to fund traffic projects, Fesler added.
In order for the tax to be extended, the commission would first have to direct staff do so. Once that happens, new agreements with Hillsborough’s cities would have to be created and approved. From there, a new gas-tax ordinance would go before the County Commission and public hearings would be held.
The Feb. 14 workshop takes place at County Center, 601 E. Kennedy Blvd. from 1:30 to 3 p.m. A final budget for Fiscal Year 2014 won’t be adopted until Sept. 19.
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What would you be able to do with 6 cents left in your wallet for each gallon you pump? Share your thoughts in the comments section.