HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Gov. Ron DeSantis wants the state to refund the money collected from a 2018 transportation tax to Hillsborough County taxpayers.
In 2018, voters approved a 1% sales tax for transportation projects in Hillsborough County, but Florida’s Supreme court voided it last year, after ruling it unconstitutional.
Nearly $570 million was collected between 2019 and 2021.
On Tuesday, the governor directed the Department of Revenue to refund the money to taxpayers. The move is factored into the governor’s proposed 2023 budget.
The governor has asked that a third-party administrator create a refund process for those who can prove they paid the tax. It’s not yet clear who would be eligible or how much they would get back. But if lawmakers approve the measure, refunds would be issued by April 1, 2024.
Leftover funds could then be used by Hillsborough County for things like road improvements.
“We have 1.5 million people in Hillsborough County. We are growing very very fast and our infrastructure he’s just not kept up,” said Hillsborough County Commissioner Harry Cohen.
“Anything that takes us towards resolving this issue is good news,” Cohen added. “It is those people that paid it, those are the people that deserve to have the benefit of those dollars.”
The group Walk Bike Tampa has been advocating for road improvements for years.
“We paid it, we should be able to be using it. It’s important to have it go toward funding some of the backlog of transportation projects that plague our city and make us one of the more dangerous places to be on the roads,” said Walk Bike Tampa board member Emily Hinsdale. “There’s so many safety projects, and improvements that would make our roads less dangerous for walkers bikers, drivers, everyone, that have been put on a back burner because there has not been money available.”
“Those dollars can help with a lot of things. People are getting hit by cars, we could use it for bike lanes,” Tampa City Council Member Orlando Gudes added.