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Florida Supreme Court hears arguments surrounding Hillsborough’s transportation tax

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Four Florida Supreme Court justices heard oral arguments on Wednesday over whether or not the tax intended to improve Hillsborough County’s infrastructure is constitutional.

The arguments come after months of back and forth between Hillsborough County Commissioner Stacey White, who called the tax illegal, and the All for Transportation organization.

More than 282,000 voters agreed in November 2018 that residents should pay an additional 1 percent sales tax, which would go to improving Hillsborough County’s infrastructure and public transportation.

Since Jan. 1, more than $207 million in collected sales tax has been sitting dormant.

Hillsborough County Commissioners voted to move forward with its allocations of the tax last summer following legal challenges in a Hillsborough County Circuit Court.

In line with the plan presented to voters, Hillsborough County would receive $115 million this year for improvements and $119.5 million in 2021. The City of Tampa would get $25 million.

Among other things, a portion of the funding was meant to improve pedestrian infrastructure, budgeting $7 million – up from $3 million – of the funds to improve the county’s walkways.

Also planned is $93.5 million for improvements to the heavily-criticized Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority. HART would eventually receive $134.6 million in 2021, following an incremental increase this year.

A decision on Wednesday’s appeal is expected to come between four and six weeks from now.

In a tweet, All for Transportation co-founder Tyler Hudson expressed his frustration for the voter-approved tax.

“The Legislature gave people the power to do this,” Hudson said. “To see it challenged is frustrating, but I’m still confident that what the people did was lawful.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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