Hillsborough County voters asked to decide on transportation referendum in November

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Posted at 8:24 PM, Sep 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-16 05:39:18-04

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — On November 8, Hillsborough County voters will have the choice on whether to support funding for countywide transportation improvements by levying a one percent sales tax.

“Hillsborough County has for far too long underfunded our transportation system,” Christina Barker said.

Barker is the Co-Founder of All for Transportation, which is supporting the plan on the ballot in November. Barker said Hillsborough County is going to grow by 700,000 people in the next 30 years.

“This is crucial so that we support the growth that we’re seeing and maintain our quality of life. We’re going to save lives, save time, and save money by voting yes on this plan,” Barker said.

Barker explained this proposal would raise about $340 million in its first year.

Here’s a breakdown of how those funds would be allocated:

  • 45% would go directly to HART for things like enhancing bus services and expanding public transit options.
  • 54.5% would be divided among Hillsborough County, Tampa, Temple Terrace and Plant City based on their relative populations, with projects that improve, repair and maintain existing roads and bridges, including fixing potholes, congestion reduction and safety improvements among funding priorities.
  • The final 0.5% would be used for planning and development purposes.

“The problem’s gotten worse, so it’s even more important now than it was in 2018,” Barker said.

If the plan sounds familiar, that’s because it’s nearly identical to what was asked of Hillsborough County voters in 2018. That measure passed, but the State Supreme Court later struck down the tax.

About half a billion dollars now sits in limbo as the final say on how it can be used is in the hands of state leaders.

“I know there are other ways to do it,” Dr. James Davison said.

Davison is with No Tax for Tracks and Fix Our Roads First. He said it’s not that they’re against transportation, but they don’t agree the tax is needed right now.

“We want the roads fixed, we want some increase in the bus operations, and we have provided a plan that does that without raising taxes,” Davison said.

Part of Davison’s alternate solution would be to use existing historic revenues instead, including the ad valorem tax.