WS Town is not a County we do not have a comprehensive plan and a County’s funds may be expended to serve a dual govt purpose

While the definition of transportation expenditures includes public transportation operations and maintenance, the question has been raised as to whether the language of section 336.025 (1) (b) 3., Florida Statutes (1996 Supplement), limits the use of the tax revenues to capital improvements.

 

Under Section 336.025 (1) (b) the 1996 Supplement of the Florida Statutes requires that revenues be used for transportation expenditures needed to meet the requirements of the capital elements of the County’s Comprehensive plan.
While section 336.025 (1) (b) 3 requires that the tax revenues be used for those capital improvements, the definitation of “transportation expenditures” woud appear to permit such revenues to be used for the operations and maintenance of such improvements.  This office has previously stated that counties are authorized to use tax moneys received pursuant to section 336.025 to fund public transportation operations (3)

 

In the inquiry, Hillsborough County’s comprehensive plan identifies public facilities that are needed in the county.  It is further stated that mass transit is included in the capital improvements element as a “Category A” public facility.

 

Accordingly, if the capital improvements elements of the County’s comprehensive plan identifies the need for a public transportation facility, the LOFT revenues imposed under section 336.025 (1) (b), Florida Statutes (1996 Supplement) may be used not only for the capital improvement of such facility but also for its operation and maintenance.

 

Section 163.3177 (3) (a) Florida Statutes (1996 Suppl3ement), provides that the comprehensive plan shall contain a capital improvements element designed to consider the need for and location of public facilities in order to encourage the efficient utilization of such facilities and sets forth:
  1.  A component which outlines principles for construction, extension or increase in capacity of public facilities, as well as a component which outlines principles for correcting existing public facility deficiencies, which are necessary to implement the comprehensive plan.  The components shall cover at least a 5-year period
  2. Estimated public facility costs, including a delineation of when facilities will be needed, the general location of the facilities and projected revenue sources to fund the facilities.
  3. Standards to ensure the availability of public facilities and the adequacy of those facilities, including acceptable levels of service.  This estimated facility costs and projected revenue sources must be included in the capital improvements element of the comprehensive plan.  In addition, the pan must contain materials describing the principles, guidelines and standards needed for the orderly and balanced future development of the area.
  4. (4)The statute, however, contemplates annual review of the capital improvements element and recognizes that corrections, updates and modifications may be made (5)
In light of the above, it is the opinion that the capital improvements element of the County’s comprehensive plan must identify the needed public transportation facility, the estimated facility’s costs, including operation and maintenance costs, and specify that funding shall come from the Local Option Fuel Tax in order for such tax revenues to be used for that purpose.
The Courts in the state of Florida have recognized that County funds may be expended for projects that serve a dual governmental purpose.  [6] For example, in Attorney General Opinion 89-84, this office stated that a county, after determining that a county purpose would be served, was authorized to financially assist the special district created to provide countywide ambulance service.  The determination, however, of whether an expenditure serves a county purpose, albeit a dual purpose, must be made by the governing body of the county.

 

Accordingly, the county commissiion may contract with and provide funding to the public transit authority to implement the public transportation services referenced in the capital improvements element of the county’s comprehensive plan, if the county commission determines that such funding serves a county or dual purpose.

 

The State, and the County in accordance with their comprehensive plans and under the advisement of the Attorney General are allowed certain extensions of the law if such funding serves a dual purpose.   This is not what White Springs may do and we do not have a comprehensive plan and have done nothing under the definition of Transportation in the last four years.

 

Joe Griffin

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