NewsHillsborough County

Actions

Money from All for Transportation will soon be spent on Hillsborough County roads

West Bay drive
Posted at 9:08 PM, Jul 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-15 06:56:24-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Plans are in motion to get half a billion dollars meant for transportation upgrades in Hillsborough County that have been stalled for more than three years.

In 2018, community members were able to collect enough petition signatures to put All for Transportation on the ballot. It was an initiative aimed at collecting a penny tax specifically for transportation projects in Hillsborough County.

More than half of the money collected by the tax was supposed to be split between Hillsborough County, the City of Tampa, Plant City, and Temple Terrace with funds based on population. The other 45% was slated to go to HART for public transportation.

But the All For Transportation tax was thrown out after County Commissioner Stacy White filed a lawsuit that claimed Florida statute says citizens can't dictate how tax money is spent. That left half a billion dollars meant for road projects stuck in limbo.

"It generated about $512 million in tax revenue. That money sat in government accounts while the lawyers fought things out and the litigation on," said All for Transportation Co-Founder Tyler Hudson.

Tampa City Council members received an update on the status of the money at a Thursday meeting.

"Our constituents are complaining every day about lack of sidewalks, lack of crosswalks, lack of bike lanes, potholes, roads that are just falling apart. And we need to figure out how to how to fix those," said Councilmember Bill Carlson.

Just last week, Judge Rex Barbas decided the half a million dollars in collected tax money will eventually go towards road projects in Hillsborough County; but the fate of the money will be decided in Tallahassee.

Director of Mobility Vik Bhide provided an update to the council. He said there's now a timeline for when the money will move.

Judge Barbas's order said within 10 days, the funds must be returned to the County Clerk. Then, within 20 days, the Clerk has to transfer that money to the Department of Revenue.

"By September 1, the Department of Revenue will be required to send a plan to the legislature, and then it's in the hands of the legislature from there," Barbas said.

City council members said now is the time to tell legislators how you want the money to be spent.

"I want to make sure that it's not a pet project, that it's something that is that is needed by the public, not something that somebody can put their name on but something that solves the actual problems that the public is interested in solving," said Carlson.

County commissioners haven't put an item on the agenda to discuss its next steps. That includes if it plans to send legislators a list of projects to prioritize.

Co-founder of All for Transportation Tyler Hudson said it's good news to finally see the money go towards road projects.

"But it's late and it's not enough, we know that we already have a $13 billion transportation project backlog in Hillsborough County because we haven't spent enough on transportation, for decades, and between the inattention and delay plus all the new people that are coming here, we're at a real break point," said Hudson.

He added there's even potential good news for voters.

"What's going to be on the ballot in November is exactly that. It's going to be adding one cent to the sales tax. And what that's going to do is it's going to fund anywhere between $200-300 million a year that can go to where the transportation projects are," Hudson said.

Hudson said that tax could be the answer to a growing problem, especially as Tampa continues to see record population growth.