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Can Tampa, Hillsborough County start legally spending All For Transportation Tax dollars?

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Posted at 6:09 AM, Feb 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-25 13:11:44-05

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — We're working to get answers for frustrated taxpayers who want to know when your tax dollars can be used to fix roads. Hillsborough County collected millions through the All For Transportation tax in the past two years.

MORE | What is All For Transportation and what is the status now?

All for Transportation is the common term for the voter-approved sales tax referendum funding transportation. It is a one-cent sales tax that was passed in November 2018. The tax started being collected in 2019.

Hillsborough County Commissioner Stacy White filed a lawsuit against the referendum. White claims the surtax is legally deficient.

However, a Hillsborough County judge upheld the tax in June 2019. Appeals were filed shortly after which is why it's heading to the Florida Supreme Court.

So far, upwards of half a billion dollars has been collected through this penny sales tax for road improvements across Hillsborough County.

In the meantime, no government has been able to spend the money they've collected as road conditions worsen and become more dangerous.

This comes as frustrated Hillsborough county residents have been contacting our Driving Tampa Bay forward tip line.

"...The roads and sidewalks in Tampa are disgusting. Decades and decades old and this money can make our roads safer, but no one can touch the funds," one person wrote to our tip line.

"People want to see their tax dollars go to the use that they're intended for," said Tampa City Councilman Luis Viera.

But now, local agencies are trying to change that. Viera filed a motion asking the city attorney to see if it's legal for Tampa to finally spend the money before the Florida Supreme Court ruling.

"Our City of Tampa budget is a third of what we need just to maintain dignity for our roads," Viera said.

Other agencies, like Hillsborough County, are looking to do the same.

Hillsborough Commissioner Harry Cohen requested the County Administrator and County Attorney's Office report back at the February 17, 2021 regular meeting for board discussion on whether or not the County should begin spending the collected funds on transportation projects.

This goes before Tampa City council on Thursday.