Florida county doubles local fuel tax rate

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 9/25/2015

Fuel costs are on the way up for drivers who stop and fuel in Santa Rosa County.

County commissioners in the northwest Florida community, which is dissected by Interstate 10, have voted to increase the local fuel tax rate to 12 cents per gallon – up from 6 cents. The rate increase will take effect Jan. 1, 2016.

Commissioners said the estimated $3.6 million annually in new revenue is needed to take care of roads throughout the county.

Specifically, 5 cents of the increase will be used for new roads, turn lanes, resurfacing and paving of existing graded roads. The remaining penny of the increase will be applied to such projects as street lighting, bridge maintenance and capital projects.

The county estimates spending about $24.8 million in the next five years on transportation work. Nearly $10 million will be used for major resurfacing and about $9 million more will be applied to potential turn-lane projects. Another $6 million will be spent on adding lanes to a 2.37-mile stretch of Chumuckla Highway and 1.7-mile portion of Berryhill Road.

The increase will also put Santa Rosa County’s fuel tax rate in line with nearby Okaloosa, Citrus and Martin counties. However, the rate would be nearly double the amounts collected in Walton and Indian River counties.

Santa Rosa County is also considering the reinstatement of an ordinance that allows them to collect impact fees. The fees, which have not been collected since 2009, are one-time charges used to offset the cost of new or expanded roads to benefit new development.