Hillsborough Commission votes on transportation tax

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Hillsborough County Commissioners voted to move forward with a plan to spend funds from a one-cent sales tax.

The tax was approved by voters, but the issue has been tied up in litigation.

Commissioner Stacy White sued to challenge the legality of the amendment approved by voters. Circuit Judge Rex Barbas ruled to uphold the sales tax but shifted the decision for where the money goes from voters, to county commissioners.

Wednesday a number of people came to speak in favor of spending the money collected from the sales tax on transportation issues as had been spelled out in the amendment.

“The will of the people was very clear. They voted overwhelmingly to increase taxes on themselves,” said Kent Bailey with the Sierra Club.

“I know what I voted for. My friends and neighbors in Tampa Heights know very well what we voted for,” said Rick Fernandez with the Tampa Heights Civic Association.

Hillsborough Commissioner Ken Hagan says he doesn’t believe all voters knew exactly what they were voting on. He read the amendment as it appeared on the ballot that voters approved.

“Can anyone say with a straight face that the 280,000 people who voted for this initiative, either went on Facebook or the County’s web site and read all four pages of the charter amendment, found section 1107,” said Hagan.

Commissioners Pat Kemp, Les Miller, Kimberly Overman and Mariella Smith voted to support a motion to approve spending of the sales tax, but the fight is not over.

White says he hasn’t decided if he will appeal the court ruling. Commissioners must vote again on the issue after a public hearing.

Tyler Hudson with the group “All for Transportation” says it’s time to move forward with the transportation measures.

“We want the commission to move on and put this money to work, because that’s what the people want,” said Hudson.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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