TAMPA, Fla. — A Hillsborough County judge on Monday decided a sales tax approved by voters specifically to fund traffic infrastructure can legally be collected.
Circuit Judge Rex Barbas wrote in his judgment that, "it is evident that the voters of Hillsborough County desire to improve transportation needs."
The lawsuit, filed by Hillsborough County Commissioner Stacy White earlier this year, opposed the one-cent sales tax. White argued that the tax was a conflict of a Florida statute.
White said the tax unlawfully gives too much power to an independent oversight committee, designated to oversee money generated from the tax.
“Do we want to have a select few have the ability to do an end run around the people’s duly-elected officials and essentially take control of this governance," White told ABC Action News in December.
The tax would fund things like new roads, sidewalk improvements and mass transit.
However, the judge did remove or alter exactly how the funds will be dispersed.
“The Hillsborough County Commission has the power to put back what the court has taken away and so we will ask the board at its next meeting to do just that, to follow the wishes of the more than 282,000 residents who voted for the plan exactly as described in the Charter amendment that they approved to be spent,” said AFT Chair Tyler Hudson after today’s ruling.
The judge's full decision can be read here.
As of June 2019, more than $62 million had been collected.
"Help is on the way," said Hudson. "You are going to get what you voted for. You wanted more money spent on transportation and that’s what you are going to get.”
To contact your commissioners to let them know what transportation projects should get priority, whether it be improve roads and bridges, expand public transit options, fix potholes, etc., fill out this form here.