TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Hillsborough County wants to have a say on how more than $569 million is spent on roads.
The money was collected as part of a one-cent sales tax after county voters approved the tax in 2018. County Commissioner Stacy White sued over the collection of the tax and the State Supreme Court eventually struck down the tax in 2021.
The county collected the money and it’s been sitting in a bank account collecting interest ever since. On Wednesday, County Commissioners held a workshop on how to spend the money.
“For me personally, I think we should focus on projects that are shovel-ready and can have an immediate impact,” said Commission Chair Ken Hagan.
Like others on the commission, Hagan said he hears a great deal from people in his district about road, street, and sidewalk problems.
“I can tell you from experience, the two areas that meet all that criteria and that my office has heard the most from our citizens is re-surfacing and sidewalks,” Hagan said.
Newly elected commissioner Michael Owen agreed.
“I’m going to do everything that I can to make sure these funds are focused on roads, potholes, repaving.”
County staff prepared a plan that would improve the timetable of when roads are repaved.
The county has more than 7,000 lane miles of roads. A county report said just 23 miles of those roads are re-surfaced each year, using less than one percent of the county budget.
With the transportation tax funds, the county is seeking to re-pave 340 lane miles each year.
However, some of the money collected by the sales tax was also collected in the cities in the county.
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor would also like to have a say in how the money is spent.
“Think the legislature has made it clear that they want this funding spent on road repairs and not necessarily on transit solutions and we are going to provide our needs as the decisions are made by the legislature,” Castor said.
Eventually, it will be up to the Florida Legislature to decide how the transportation tax funds are spent and the legislature has not yet indicated a process for how that will be done.