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The economic upswing in general and the building boom in particular have put more cash into Volusia County government coffers, prompting leaders to plan a new round of spending on roads.

After years of deferring and shelving projects, county officials are now resurrecting old plans and creating fresh ones.

The county has unveiled its first five-year road program in several years.

“It’s time now to put together a list of projects that are doable,” County Manager George Recktenwald said Nov. 19, as the County Council reviewed data on road-impact-fee collections and a slight increase in gasoline-tax receipts.

After more than a decade of anemic impact-fee revenues, the county has logged two years of impact-fee growth, and the trend shows no sign of diminishing soon.

Volusia County has taken in approximately $20 million in road-impact fees over the past two years combined.

After making about $9 million in payments on a 2004 bond issue of $65 million for road building, the county now has about $11 million left over to spend.

Paying back the bonds has the first claim on the county’s transportation funds. Gas-tax revenues were initially pledged for the repayment, but the county shifted some impact-fee dollars to servicing the debt.

The debt is supposed to be fully repaid in 2024.

By state law, impact-fee revenues may be used only for “new capacity,” meaning new roads or adding lanes.

Impact fees are collected upfront on new homes and commercial buildings, and are supposed to help local government meet the need those developments create.

The county’s local-option gas taxes are rising ever so modestly, expected to yield about $26 million this year. That may seem like a large amount of cash, but a single mile of two-lane road costs about $5 million.

Thus, if Volusia County has about $37 million for road projects — gas taxes plus impact fees — that can pay for about 7.5 miles of new roads.

The roads the county builds with impact-fee revenues also must be located in the zones where the road-impact fees were collected.

For example, the dollars charged on new construction in Deltona must be reserved for the county’s southwest quadrant; they may not be shifted to Ormond Beach or Daytona Beach to pay for a county thoroughfare such as Williamson Boulevard.

Volusia County also receives smaller amounts of money for roads in the form of “proportionate share,” a sort of additional impact fee paid by developers to defray the costs of future transportation improvements related to a new subdivision or commercial project.

State growth-management laws permit counties and cities to impose proportionate-share payments on new development that directly affects local road networks.

Amid the fresh inflow of transportation dollars and newfound optimism, county officials are eyeing new — and old — road projects.

{{tncms-inline content=”&lt;p&gt;County officials are convinced they can build more roads, if they can convince voters to impose a local-option sales tax.&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;A majority of the voters rejected a half-cent increase in the sales tax in a mail-in referendum in May. That tax, had it been approved, would have yielded an estimated $40 million in new revenues for road and water-quality projects.&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;Despite the rebuff by the electorate, County Council members say they are ready to try again.&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;&amp;ldquo;We&amp;rsquo;re working with the Elected Officials Roundtable to get with the citizens, regular citizens to be involved,&amp;rdquo; County Chair Ed Kelley said.&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;Kelley said the sales tax could appear on the Nov. 3, 2020, general-election ballot.&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;He panned the idea of using a mail-in referendum again.&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;Council Member Deborah Denys joined in calling for an infrastructure sales tax.&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;&amp;ldquo;Costs are going up, and the need is not going away,&amp;rdquo; she said.&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;Denys slammed opponents of the failed sales tax, notably those who said the county has enough money for new roads and safety projects.&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;&amp;ldquo;I&amp;rsquo;m so frustrated that there is still purposeful misrepresentation,&amp;rdquo; she added. &amp;ldquo;I&amp;rsquo;ve had it.&amp;rdquo;&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;Council Member Ben Johnson likewise challenged critics.&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;&amp;ldquo;If the money is there, let somebody show it to me,&amp;rdquo; he said. &amp;ldquo;It&amp;rsquo;s time to either put up or shut up.&amp;rdquo;&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;County Manager George Recktenwald reminded anyone listening that, in addition to new projects, the county must take care of the roads and bridges it already has, and isn&amp;rsquo;t allowed to do that with impact-fee money.&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;&amp;ldquo;A considerable amount of money will have to be spent on these assets. They wear out,&amp;rdquo; he said. &amp;ldquo;You&amp;rsquo;ve got assets on the ground now that are 40, 50, 60 years old.&amp;rdquo;&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p&gt;The county manager added, &amp;ldquo;It&amp;rsquo;s a nationwide problem. Infrastructure is crumbling.&amp;rdquo;&lt;/p&gt; &lt;p style=&quot;text-align: right;&quot;&gt;&lt;em&gt;&amp;mdash; Al Everson&lt;/em&gt;&lt;/p&gt;” id=”efcfaf80-942e-4bf7-ac9e-1a5381241f5c” style-type=”info” title=”Still wishing for more sales tax” type=”relcontent”}}

{{tncms-inline content=”&lt;ul&gt; &lt;li&gt;Widening from two to four lanes the 2-mile segment of Howland Boulevard between Providence and Elkcam boulevards in Deltona, $17.8 million&lt;/li&gt; &lt;li&gt;Widening from two to three lanes East Graves Avenue between Veterans Memorial Parkway and Kentucky Avenue in Orange City, $1.13 million&lt;/li&gt; &lt;li&gt;Four-laning Orange Camp Road between Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Beltway and Interstate 4 in DeLand, $11.5 million&lt;/li&gt; &lt;li&gt;Extending East Beresford Avenue eastward from South Blue Lake Avenue to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Beltway in DeLand, $3.9 million&lt;/li&gt; &lt;li&gt;Adding paved shoulders on Old New York Avenue between State Road 44 and Shell Road in DeLand, $3.3 million&lt;/li&gt; &lt;li&gt;Reducing from four lanes to three lanes the segment of Amelia Avenue between East Voorhis and East Ohio avenues in DeLand, as a safety project, $2.4 million&lt;/li&gt; &lt;li&gt;Putting in a roundabout at the intersection of State Road 44 and Kepler Road In DeLand, a joint project between Volusia County and the Florida Department of Transportation, $3.9 million&lt;/li&gt; &lt;li&gt;Widening Dirksen Drive between U.S. Highway 17-92 and Interstate 4 in DeBary from two to three lanes, cost not yet firm, but county may apply for a grant from the Federal Highway Administration&lt;/li&gt; &lt;/ul&gt; &lt;p style=&quot;text-align: right;&quot;&gt;&lt;em&gt;&amp;mdash; Al Everson&lt;/em&gt;&lt;/p&gt;” id=”410fadfc-1633-4ae6-972b-735a826e25c0″ style-type=”refer” title=”Proposed projects” type=”relcontent”}}


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