GETTING TO KNOW THE GAS TAX: The Basics
For every gallon of fuel you buy, a certain amount of the cost is fuel tax, commonly called "the gas tax". Fuel taxes are one of the ways the costs of building and maintaining public streets, roads, highways and bridges are paid for.
In simple terms, there are three types of fuel tax: Federal, State and Local.
The amount of these taxes depends on the type of fuel you buy: gasoline, diesel, aviation.
|Fuel Tax Rates per Gallon
|Federal Fuel Tax
|Florida Fuel Taxes
|Citrus County Local Option Fuel Taxes
STATE OF FLORIDA FUEL TAXES
Florida's rate actually consists of five taxes:
- The Fuel Sales Tax (16.2¢)
- The State Comprehensive Enhanced Transportation System (SCETS) Tax (8.9¢) to fund projects within each of the State's seven Transportation Districts (Citrus County is in District 7 which includes Citrus, Hernando, Pasco, Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties).
- The Constitutional Fuel Tax (2¢)* Approved by Voters as part of the State's Constitution in 1943 to fund County projects.
- County Fuel Tax (1¢)*
- Municipal Fuel Tax (1¢)
LOCAL OPTION FUEL TAXES
In addition to the funds provided by the State Fuel Taxes, County's have the option to add local fuel taxes amounting to as much as 12¢ per gallon.
- Ninth-Cent Fuel Tax: 1¢ This "9th cent" local option tax was approved in 1972 when the State Gas Tax was 8¢.
- First Local option 1-6 Cents Fuel Tax: Up to 6¢ This local option tax was approved by the legislature in 1983. Citrus County's first Focal Option tax is 6¢ per gallon and applies to gasoline and diesel sales.
- Second Local option 1-5 Cents Fuel Tax: Up to 5¢ This local option tax was approved by the legislature in 1993 and was added by Citrus County voters in 2006. Citrus County's Second Local Option tax is 5¢ per gallon on gasoline sales. The Second Local Option tax is not charged on diesel fuel.
THE GAS TAX REVENUE CITRUS COUNTY RECEIVES
The Florida Department of Revenue collects all State and Local Option Gas Tax funds.
Based on allocation formulas (local transportation projects debt service, State administrative costs and interlocal allocation agreements with the Cities of Inverness and Crystal River) funds from the Constitutional Fuel Tax, County Fuel Tax and Citrus County's Local Option Fuel Taxes are distributed to the County each month.
For Fiscal Year 2024 (October 1, 2023 to September 30, 2024) the Department of Revenue projects Citrus County will receive $8,840,000 from gas tax collections.
RESTRICTIONS ON USES OF REVENUE
The Constitutional Fuel Tax, County Fuel Tax and each Local Option Fuel Tax come with restrictions on how the revenue from each can be spent. (See Conditions of Use for Fuel Taxes) This means that gas tax funds get spread out over a variety of different types of projects based on how particular gas tax funds can be spent.
For example, the Second Local Option Fuel Tax can only be used for specific transportation projects or for debt service on transportation-related projects. It cannot be used for the routine maintenance of roads such as resurfacing. Citrus County has pledged these funds as security for financing of County Road 486 and 491 improvement projects.
COUNTY ROADS vs. STATE AND FEDERAL HIGHWAYS
Not all roads in Citrus County are maintained by Citrus County.
For instance, US Highway 19, US Highway 41, State Road 44, State Road 200 and the Suncoast Parkway, are not County maintained roads. Resurfacing and expansion of these roads is managed at the State level. Citrus County, for instance, doesn't manage work being done on US Highway 19. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) oversees and manages that project.
The County also does not manage care of streets within the two incorporated cities within the County.
The City of Crystal River and the City of Inverness maintain streets within their city limits.
The County maintains public streets and roads within unincorporated Citrus County. Street and Road signs for publicly maintained roads are green. If a street has a white sign rather than a green one, that signifies the road is privately maintained without public funds.
In total, Citrus County maintains 2,277 miles of public roadway. Of that, 2,041 miles are paved.
WHERE THE RUBBER MEETS THE ROAD: Our County Roads
Many people assume the gas tax was designed to cover all road building, road maintenance and road resurfacing costs. However, when gas taxes were created, most local roads in Florida were maintained with ad valorem (property tax) revenue. The Constitutional, County and Local Option Fuel tax options were added over the years to help lessen the ad valorem tax burden but not eliminate it. So, in addition to funds received from the gas tax, County's have to continue to use ad valorem revenue or other revenue sources such as dedicated local sales tax to build and maintain roads and bridges.What would happen if the County only relied on Gas Taxes for road upkeep? Actually, we already know. In the lean times following the Great Recession, the County relied solely on Gas Taxes and Gas Tax match grants for road resurfacing (see the Road Resurfacing Budget chart below). During those years, the amount invested in repaving streets was far below the actual cost required for long-term upkeep. So, much of the County's need for repaving was deferred. This under-funding contributed greatly to the high level of deteriorating streets within the County now.
The current Board of County Commissioners is now faced with addressing a major problem. In fiscal year 2024, Citrus County will spend $12 million on road resurfacing alone. Local Option Gas taxes and SCOP funds will only cover $5 million of that cost. The rest comes from Citrus County's ad valorem tax revenue.
SAVE OUR STREETS: Establishing a 20-Year Road Resurfacing Cycle
Paved roads typically last 20 years before requiring resurfacing. Because Citrus County deferred maintenance on its road and street system historically, the number of deteriorating roads and streets grew exponentially over the years along with the costs of repair.
In 2022, the Board of County Commissioners voted to address the crisis by launching a five-year stepped plan to fully fund resurfacing of all County maintained roads and streets by establishing a recurring 20-year repaving cycle.
The plan calls for adding 2/10's of a mill to the ad valorem tax rate for five consecutive years. After the five years, this will result in one mill of the ad valorem tax rate being dedicated solely to regularly keeping up with road resurfacing.
Already, this stepped plan is having an impact. In Fiscal Year 2023, the first year of the plan, Citrus County was able to increase the road resurfacing budget to $6 million. That was a 50% increase over the previous year. In Fiscal Year 2024, Citrus County is budgeting $12 million--a 100% increase over the FY23 budget. This represents an unprecedented level of investment in Citrus County's streets and roads.
With a growing amount of funds for road resurfacing, the total number of streets being resurfaced within the County will significantly expand over the five year period. Once the ad valorem millage dedicated to road resurfacing reaches one full mill, a sustainable 20-year road resurfacing cycle will be in place. This will mean County streets and roads will be repaved on a consistent schedule based on the normal 20-year lifespan of a pavement surface.