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Hillsborough County commissioners to discuss 'Plan B' for transportation project funding

All for Transportation
Posted at 5:19 AM, Feb 19, 2020

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — How will Hillsborough County officials fund future road projects, if the "All for Transportation" tax is turned down?

It was the topic of conversation at the Feb. 19 Hillsborough County Commission meeting. County commissioners voted to lay the ground work for what could eventually add a referendum on the November ballot for a 1% transportation sales surtax.

RELATED: Florida Supreme Court discusses 'All for Transportation' case

At least one commissioner would like a public hearing in April to consider adding an amendment to the Hillsborough County Charter on the Nov. 3 ballot. If voters approved, a 1% transportation sales surtax would be levied for 30 years.

Here's what County leaders say is necessary to fund transportation:

  • Comprehensive Transportation Needs total $2.58 billion
  • Safety (sidewalks, trails, bicycle facilities, and intersections)
  • Maintenance (resurfacing, bridges, and sidewalks)
  • Congestion Relief (roads, intersections, and technology)

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The $2.58 billion includes:

  • $961 million in the recommended FY20‐FY25 CIP
  • In addition to the CIP, $1.37 billion in projects and programs recommended for the next 10 years

Unincorporated Area General Funds struggling to keep pace with revenue transfers to transportation policy. FY20 showed a $46.4 million Unincorporated deficit which will grow to $261.8 million by FY24.

It comes as the Florida Supreme Court considers whether to strike down the All For Transportation tax. The surtax passed in 2018 but has been tied up in litigation. It was also a 1% sales tax.

The legal team who argued the case for the county believes there could be a decision before the summer. But as commissioners wait, some said it's necessary to take action.

"This whole thing about not putting money certain places that’s a bunch of hogwash because I believe this board has the wherewithal and concern of citizens to do the right thing. And this ordinance I think is the right thing to do," said Commissioner Les Miller.

Others spoke out against the possibility of another referendum. Commissioner Stacy White filed the original appeal against AFT after voters approved the amendment in November 2018.

"The dust has not yet even settled yet a proposal has been hastily prepared in such a way that it seems to be nothing more than an effort to try to breath life into the All for Transportation plan," said Commissioner Stacy White.

In a County Commission document, it states that without a surtax budget cuts are imminent.

"The unfortunate reality is that without a Surtax, there will be unfortunate budgetary decisions that need to be made between funding essential public services such as fire rescue and sheriff services, and funding our county’s comprehensive transportation needs."