Osceola approves higher gas tax for road improvements

By John W. Davis, Reporter
Last Updated: Monday, March 09, 2015, 10:36 PM EDT
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Gas prices will be rising in Osceola County, as commissioners approved a 5-cent gas tax.

Commissioners voted 4–1 Monday to approve the tax, which goes into effect January 1, 2016. 

The tax is in addition to a tax of 6 cents a gallon that's expected to last through 2038. The new gas tax will now total 11 cents per gallon. 

Commissioners said they want funds from the new tax to go toward improving roads and transportation systems throughout the county.

Pouchon Savion owns Savion’s Place Restaurant in Downtown Kissimmee. 

And as a small business owner, he’s always trying to cut costs to stay profitable. 

However, when we told him county leaders were increasing a gas tax countywide, he wasn't happy about it. 

“Definitely going to have a huge impact on the small business because the only way we can impact it is by raising our prices," Savion said.

The other commisioners' reason the additional projected $6 million in 2016 and more than $8.5 million in 2017 will pay for much needed Sunday LYNX bus service and road maintenance, specifically paving dirt roads in the county.

The increased gas tax revenue is projected at $12.6 million in 2040.

However, a lot of the residents said they where not aware they were paying a 6 cents per gallon gas tax.  

They also didn’t know or approve of their gas tax being increased to 11 cents per gallon on Monday afternoon by Osceola County Commissioners. 

 “It’s definitely not good for us citizens to have to pay this higher tax bracket because who knows what gas is going to be like in January," said Osceola County resident Carol Allman.

Fred Hawkins Jr. was the only commissioner who voted against the gas tax increase. Hawkins Jr. said he wanted county leaders to delay the vote and come up with cost-saving budget cuts. 

Like Savion, Hawkins believes the cost will be passed along to consumers when small businesses have to pay more for gas.

“Do we take a pay cut? What do we do? Do we give our employees -- no one can afford a pay cut because now they’re spending more on gas. So it’s going to be an increase somehow and it’s going to hurt us," Savion said.