Will Clay County tax burden be shifted from builders to drivers?

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – A 5-cent per gallon gas tax increase that is being called the largest in Clay County history was passed by the Board of County Commissioners to offset a break commissioners gave to builders.

Former Clay County Commissioner George Bush said after he left office, the commission took away a fee developers pay to maintain roads, and now that loss of revenue is being put on motorists when they fill up their gas tanks.

Last week, the County Commission told News4Jax the 5-cent gas tax will pay for roads, and that it was part of a referendum voters passed to allow tax hikes.

In an email sent to News4Jax, Bush said that shortly after he left, the board, "at the request of developers, did away with the impact fees on road construction. Yet the BCC continued to spend, bringing the massive gasoline tax as supported by the development industry.” 

He called the increase “by far the largest in Clay County history."

Current Commissioner Diane Hutchings told News4Jax on Thursday that the impact fee was removed about eight years ago when the economy tanked. She said the county is working to bring it back, but disagreed that it's enough to offset the gas tax -- and claimed it is not even close.

Some motorists in the county agree with Bush.

"It’s their way of passing the buck to the residents of Clay County and the visitors of Clay County.  And it’s not fair," said Joy Elrod, a Clay County driver. "I don’t see anything fair about 5 cents a gallon."

Elrod says it costs a lot to fill up her Ford F-150 and she doesn’t want this tax.

"Yeah, and a lot of people are driving SUVs that get gas mileage probably about what I do  and I think it’s a little bit more than what the public of Clay County should have to pay," Elrod said.

Not everyone who drives in Clay county feels that way. Some people said the growth of the county is important and they don’t mind paying a few more pennies at the pump.

"The county sells like a million gallons a day, so it does help," said Zudana Hozdic, a Clay County resident. "Everyday when you come to the car, just throw your change in. What does a penny mean?"

All but one member of the County Commission approved the tax.

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