Some Pasco residents charged thousands more than their neighbors to pave the same road

Better Call Behnken

County officials say property size and zoning determine the paving assessment

PORT RICHEY, Fla. (WFLA) – As more residents come forward to complain of recently approved or pending paving assessment projects in Pasco County, some find they’re charged significantly more than their neighbors for their share of paving the same road.

“I’m paying almost $12,000 for less than 200 feet of road frontage,” said Pamela Delker.

That’s what she thought. But it turns out, Pasco County officials say county ordinance requires them to charge based on size and zoning, not how much of the street is in front of your house.

In Delker’s case, only a small section of her property fronts the street, but her oddly-shaped property is 1.65 acres, causing her paving assessment fee to be so high.

Critics of the paving assessment system Pasco County uses to pay to pave roads point to issues like this as a reason why the system needs to change to spread out paving costs.

Ainsley Caldwell, of Pasco County Public Works says the county is looking into ways the system could be changed to make it “more equitable,” but any change would have to be approved by the County Commission.

But changing the system is unlikely to come fast enough to keep the bills from coming to homeowners along streets the county already plans to pave.

He said road frontage is not currently a consideration for the amount charged.

“I may have a long skinny lot, say 150 feet frontage, and it’s only a half an acre,” he said. “You may have a frontage of 20 feet, just enough to get to 50 acres back there.”

Residents in Cranes Roost are fuming after receiving certified letters from Pasco County saying their roads are in “very poor” condition and that they need to be repaved.

That’s because even though the roads are owned by the county, residents would get the bills, estimated between $6,100 and $7,000 a household.

“If we had horrible roads, I’d say, ok let’s do it, but my road is fine, and it’s a dead end, nobody goes down there except local people, family friends, and service trucks,” said Laura Slane. “So I don’t understand why it’s so imperative that we have this done.”

It’s not just Cranes Roost. Our Better Call Behnken investigation uncovered homeowners in the struggling community of Lacoochee with paving bills as high as $20,000.

It’s all part of Pasco’s PVAS program. Instead of paving roads through property taxes, Pasco County directly charges homeowners along the street. Some are questioning this system and say it’s time for the county to pay for paving through property taxes, like other Tampa Bay governments do.

“I didn’t even know that Pasco County has this type of authority that they can just go ahead a assess their homeowners to pay for projects…that we don’t want,” said Donna Java, who has lived in the neighborhood for more than 20 years.

Residents point out two potholes on one street but say the potholes could just be patched instead on repaving the entire neighborhood.

The main subdivision road, Cranes Roost Drive, was paved with what county officials say was a temporary sealant several years ago after it was damaged during Hurricane Irma. Residents say the road is just fine the way it was.

The county commission has already approved 17 paving projects for this fiscal year and 11 await board approval. As for Cranes Roost, residents are planning to attend a virtual meeting next week to try to convince commissioners to vote against this project.

The PVAS program typically requires at least 50 percent of homeowners approve of the project before the paving can begin.

Letters sent to residents state failure to pay could result in loss of the property. That’s because these bills are attached to property taxes and failure to pay your taxes could result in a tax deed sale.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

April 24 2021 08:00 am

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