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Hillsborough County administrator proposes shifting transportation tax money

All for Transportation
Posted at 1:57 PM, Jul 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-17 17:36:28-04

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — What's happening with the transportation tax? That's a question that is consistently asked to our Driving Tampa Bay Forward tip line.

Commonly called "All for Transportation," the voter-approved tax has been tied up in litigation since it was passed in November. Commissioner Stacy White filed the lawsuit.

But after a judge's ruling this summer, the tax is set to move forward pending any future appeals.

Wednesday, Hillsborough County Commissioner Les Miller will request the board to approve an ordinance that would determine exactly how those funds are spent. If approved, the County Attorney's office would draft how that money is distributed.

However, at that same meeting County Administrator Mike Merrill will present his 2020 budget.

Merrill is proposing using the transportation tax money to meet growing demands and fund additional "fire rescue stations, code enforcement staffing, law enforcement staffing, and affordable housing initiatives."

According to his budget, Merrill says "the one-percent transportation surtax recently approved by voters generates a much needed, dedicated funding source for a balanced network of transit, sidewalks, trails, roads, and intersection improvements. I recommend that the Adopted Budget include an appropriation of Transportation Surtax dollars to fund the $31 million in transportation projects that otherwise would be funded with ad valorem revenue."

Merrill released the following statement on the issue:

The recommendation put forth in the proposed budget to reduce the ad valorem transfer to transportation projects by $31 million and instead fund those projects with surtax is in line with the Board of County Commissioners’ Policy established in 2016. I am required by the policy to inform the board when that policy is impacting public safety and other commissioner initiatives. My budget recommendation allows for critical investments in public safety, parks and affordable housing. Ultimately, it is the Board’s decision. However, I am in support of both items on tomorrow’s agenda – Commissioner Miller’s item on restoring the uses of the surtax and accepting my budget recommendation – this implements the will of the voters without increasing taxes or reducing services.

Of course, All for Transportation leader Tyler Hudson is against this proposal and feels it goes against what the voters approved.

To contact your county commissioner, click here.