RESEARCH BY A LOYAL READER

In doing so research on Local Option Fuel Taxes and how they are to be spent in Florida since the Town of White Springs and the Towns Auditor have such contrasting views from Florida Statutes I thought I would do some of my own research. Florida Statutes are pretty specific on what LOFT funds can be expended on. In addition, Florida Statute says these funds are to deposited into a specifically earmarked account. Needless to say, White Springs has a different opinion. The State Attorney General has issues numerous opinions on how these funds can be spent and these are just a few of the excerpts from several Attorney General’s opinions on the use of LOFT funds. It is clear why White Springs has such poor roads as clearly the LOFT funds are not being spent on “Public Transportation and Maintenance.”

Section 336.025(1), Florida Statutes, authorizes a local option gas tax of one to six cents upon every gallon of motor fuel and special fuel sold in a county and taxed under the provisions of part I or part II of chapter 206, Florida Statutes.[1] The statute limits the use of such tax revenues by county and municipal governments “only for transportation expenditures.”[2] For purposes of the section, “transportation expenditures” is defined to mean expenditures by the local government for the following programs:

“(a) Public transportation operations and maintenance.
(b) Roadway and right-of-way maintenance and equipment and structures used primarily for the storage and maintenance of such equipment.
(c) Roadway and right-of-way drainage.
(d) Street lighting.
(e) Traffic signs, traffic engineering, signalization, and pavement markings.
(f) Bridge maintenance and operation.
(g) Debt service and current expenditures for transportation capital projects in the foregoing program areas, including construction or reconstruction of roads.”[3]

In addition to the above-cited uses, counties with a population of 50,000 or less on April 1, 1992, may use local option gas tax revenues to fund infrastructure projects that are consistent with the local government’s approved comprehensive plan or, if approval or denial of plan has not become final, consistent with the last plan submitted to the state.[4]
Local option fuel tax revenues levied pursuant to section 336.025, Florida Statutes, may not be used to pay operational expenditures for storm drainage, street lighting, and traffic signalization.

336.025(7)(b), F.S., authorizes municipalities to use the local option gas tax moneys for the upkeep and care of roadways and rights-of-way and for the apparatus or machinery for maintaining these roadways and rights-of-way. While it is clear that s. 336.025(7)(b), F.S., would authorize a city to expend these funds for the equipment used to maintain roadways and rights-of-way, I cannot say that the statute contemplates the use of these tax funds for such incidental purposes as constructing garage and maintenance buildings to house such equipment.

In light of the rule that tax statutes must be strictly construed, and the limited nature of the expenditures authorized by s. 336.025(7)(b), F.S., it is my opinion that the City of Key Colony Beach is not authorized to use local option gas tax money collected pursuant to s. 336.025, F.S., to construct a garage and maintenance building to house road and right-of-way maintenance equipment.

Accordingly, it is my opinion that local option fuel tax funds may not be used to construct bicycle paths separate and apart from the road or street, as such a project would not be within the purposes authorized by section 336.025, Florida Statutes.

“The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become a legalized version of the first.” …Thomas Jefferso

Very interesting!Thanks for sharing!Thank you!

Leave a Reply