The Hernando County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) and staff conducted a workshop on February 16th to discuss several issues over the 6-hour meeting. The first half of the day was devoted to the county’s roadways.
Property acquisition seems to be holding things up. Register Chevy’s RV is facing litigation for eminent domain. This has been going on since 2015. According to Public Works Director and County Engineer Scott Herring, there are two other properties on the north side of Cortez Boulevard and one other on the south side that will need to be acquired.
Herring reported that once the properties are acquired, the design plans will need to be updated, as they were completed in 2015.
Barclay’s expansion is from Powell Road to Cortez.
Property acquisition and design of the north side of Cortez will probably come from impact fees and gas taxes.
On the south side, Herring said, “We’re going to have to see what we can put together. As you are aware, gas taxes are basically a flat revenue source … our gas tax revenues have increased (since 2019) 0.7 percent.”
Gas taxes are calculated per gallon, not per dollar. Therefore, gas price increases do not increase tax revenue. Herring added that the county is currently at its maximum allowed gas tax revenue, per Florida Statute.
The speed limit on Shoal Line Boulevard
The current speed limit southbound on Shoal Line Boulevard is 55 MPH which later drops to 45. Commissioners discussed lowering this section to 35 MPH. Approaching Hernando Beach, the speed limit is 35 MPH.
Turn signal at Mariner and Landover Boulevard.
Signal changes at the southernmost intersection of Mariner and Landover Boulevards (nearest to Springstead High School) were discussed. Herring was given direction to study the potential of installing a dedicated left turn arrow on the east side / westbound side of Landover. This will allow drivers the right-of-way when turning left onto Mariner (southbound). There are currently no arrow signals at this intersection.
County Line Road – A possible moratorium on new development until the road expansion project moves forward
All commissioners expressed their opposition to a moratorium on new development until Pasco County signs a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), essentially partnering with Hernando to complete the expansion of County Line Road’s south side.
“We know County Line (road) is a major problem,” said Chairman John Alloco. He added that even if Hernando County imposes a moratorium on development, Pasco County has no such restriction.
Commissioner Steve Champion said, “I think it’s unconstitutional. I think property rights mean something. There’s people that have millions of dollars out there that are invested. It’s our problem, and we need to fix it. We need to figure out how to fix County Line…”
Assistant Attorney Kyle Benda clarified that a moratorium put into effect now would have no effect on projects already approved.
Also discussed was a “road swap” with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), where FDOT takes over the maintenance of a county road and vice versa.
Bob Esposito with the Hernando – Citrus Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) said County Line would be a good choice for FDOT to manage, as it would be a good east/west connection. However, discussions on the matter cannot take place until July.
Hernando County has been trying to coordinate the expansion of County Line with Pasco. Pasco has yet to sign the most recent MOU that will establish their partnership with Hernando County and also establish a water/sewer agreement with Pasco that will provide sewer capacity for ten years.
The agreement will charge Pasco the commercial rate for wastewater plus a capacity reservation fee. The capacity reservation fee is not a connection fee since the agreement is finite.
Delay of road projects until prices stabilize, resurfacing program, lime rock paving program
Scott Herring spoke about finding alternative funding sources to deal with recent price escalations. His department usually spends $2-4 million per year but has been unable to this year due to staff limitations and the number of projects currently underway.
“Oil prices are the big issue,” Herring said, “Oil is the biggest component of asphalt.”
Policy changes are expected to come before the board for approval, to pause projects that are not in this year’s budget and have not started, and also pause projects not started that are paid with MSBUs (Municipal Services Benefit Units) that are not in the budget. These changes will be used to update DPW’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP).
Commissioners also discussed changing the MSBU program for repaving lime rock roads. The current ordinance includes a one-third share by the county toward the MSBU. The new ordinance would direct 100 percent of the cost to the property owner.
Confirmation of road projects priority list
One of the top priorities mentioned was Ayers Road at Culbreath Road. The property acquisition required to overhaul this intersection for signaling has stalled. Herring reported that the property owner did not find the county’s offer acceptable.
Commissioners mentioned the other top two priorities, a traffic signal at Linden Drive and County Line and Waterfall at Winding Oaks. No decisions were made during this meeting, but Herring and staff will be prioritizing projects going forward.
“As part of the upcoming budget cycle, you are about to see a drastically revamped Capital Improvement Program,” Herring said.
Use of impact fees as a funding source for roads
Commissioner Jerry Campbell stated he would like to explore Pasco’s Multi-modal Mobility Fee Program. Campbell reported that this model could incentivize infill projects rather than contribute to “urban sprawl.” This program tiers impact fees according to location.
Commissioners discussed several avenues to increasing impact fees, with the general consensus approving no more than 50 percent. The current road impact fees are set at 22 percent.
Current increases are regulated by State statute. Fees cannot increase by more than 12.5 percent per year, cannot be increased by more than 50 percent of the existing rate, and cannot be increased more than once every four years. The exception to this rule is a demonstration of extraordinary circumstances in the past 12 months which would need to be approved by two-thirds of the BOCC.
Commissioners Champion and Cambell both said they were opposed to increasing these fees over 50 percent. The issue is expected to be discussed in a future workshop.