HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — On Thursday, five of the seven Hillsborough County commissioners voted to appeal a judge’s recent ruling to remove a transportation tax referendum from the November General Election ballot.

“If appealing means staying the decision, then voters can still vote for this, then the supervisor of election can still count the vote and then we can, at a later date, challenge whether or not, as we saw in the 2018, whether or not there was an issue in accordance to the law,” Commission Chair Kimberly Overman said.

According to county leaders, the 1% sales tax would raise $340 million in funds annually for improvements to the roads and public transportation.

Commission chair Kimberly Overman points out voters already approved a similar transportation tax in 2018, but a judge struck it down.

“Everybody in Hillsborough County knows that we have a transportation problem,” Overman said.

She says delays in voting for the tax are making the projects it would pay for even more expensive.

“It is frustrating,” Overman. “It’s not surprising given the source of the individuals that have come forward on this because they just don’t believe in taxing for any reason.”

The attorney representing those opposed to the new tax Sam Salario, Jr. released a statement saying:

The County chose ballot language that led voters to think they were voting for things like new and wider roads in places like Brandon and Tampa. Unfortunately, it didn’t choose that language because it is true. The County chose it because the County wanted people to vote for the tax and this language polled well. Voters have the legal right to fair and honest treatment. The County’s ballot language instead misled them about what their vote does and does not do.  

It did not have to be that way. The County could easily have written an honest and accurate ballot question. It chose not to. The fix for that is to elect leaders committed to doing things correctly. It is not to expect a court of law to approve language that so obviously violates the County’s legal duty to make clear and truthful disclosure on the ballot.

The county attorney believes voters still lawfully cast their votes if an appeal is taken and encouraged people to still vote next month.

The county will seek to get a stay of the judge’s order while this is being reviewed.

Josie Fickey was one of several people who spoke against the appeal Thursday.

“If they really care about public safety, stop the building. Stop building and start addressing the real issues,” Fickey said.

However, views on the tax were mixed.

“We can’t keep having the growth that we’re having and be proud of that without addressing our transportation and transit needs,” Demetria Simmons.