LOFT Funds may NOT be used to pay OPERATIONAL expenditures, nor the construction and installation of traffic signals, sidewalks, bicycle paths and landscaping.

 

The Independent Auditor General asked whether the LOFT fund proceeds may be used to fund OPERATIONAL expenditures for storm drainage, street lighting and traffic signalization

Attorney General Ashley Moody stated the LOFT 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.  The independent Auditor stated electricity and water service is used to operate signals, street lights and storm water pumping stations.

Section 336.025, Florida Statute authorizes the levy of LOFT on motor fuel and diesel fuel for LOCAL TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM PROJECTS.  (1)  fuel taxes pursuant to right-of-way drainage in the form of canals or a retention pond appeared to be a basic requirement for an efficient drainage program and would have the appropriate nexus to be considered a valid transportation expendure.  Thus, local opeion fuel tax revenues could be used to fund the dredging of canals that the city maintained as part of the city’s road and right-of-way drainage program.

In contrast, tax moneys collected pursuant to section 336.025 Florida Statutes, it was asked whether LOFT could be used for sidewalk construction as a stand alone project.  The sidewalks were to be constructed or extended without any accompanying road construction, reconstruction or maintenance.  The opinion reviewed the definition of “transportation expenditures” and concluded that the construction of sidewallks does not fall within the scope of section 336.025 for the use of Local Option Fuel Tax. 

While section 336.025, Florida Statutes, does not authorize the use of LOFT for the construction of bicycle paths, other revenue sources are available to accomplish this type of project.

Section 206.47 (7), Florida Statutes authorizes the use of the constitutional fuel tax (5) for “the construction and installation of traffic signals, sidewalks, bicycle paths and landscaping.  [6] (e.a.).

Further, a municipality may provide improvements such as bicycle paths by levying and collecting special assessments on the property that has been especially benefited by such improvements as provided in section 170.01 (1) (a) Florida Statutes.    While LOFT may not be used to construct bicycle paths, a numer of options exist for funding a project.

 

Joe Griffin

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