The legal battle over fixing transportation issues in Hillsborough County will make its way in front of a judge Friday.
Families are now paying the highest sales tax in the state after voters approved an increase from 7 percent to 8.5 percent to pay for school and transportation improvements.
Millions of dollars will be pumped into road repairs, sidewalk improvements and enhancements to public transportation services.
The future of the transportation sales tax is now expected to be tied up in court after Hillsborough County Commissioner Stacy White filed a lawsuit to stop the tax.
The group All for Transportation came up with the voter-approved tax plan and is asking a judge Friday to be added to the lawsuit as an intervener, so it could defend the sales tax in court.
Tampa city leaders aren’t revealing anything on their plans until the legal issue is sorted out but understands there’s a need to address transportation issues. They’re hoping for a favorable outcome.
Hillsborough County public works officials said in a statement that they’re still moving forward with their projects as planned.
County staff is in the process of compiling a list of projects that will be funded by the transportation surtax revenues. These projects will be presented to the BOCC for their approval prior to submission to Independent Oversight Committee. There will be projects such as resurfacing, sidewalk repairs, and bridge maintenance that can be moved forward quickly once approved. In order to meet this objective, County staff is identifying contracts needed to perform this work. Currently, we are anticipating work to begin in the summer of 2019 on some of these projects.
Commissioner White argues that the way money from the roads tax will be controlled violates state law.
White believes an independent oversight committee will have more say over how money is spent than leaders in Hillsborough County.
“I think it’s a frustration feeling,” said Brian Willis, attorney for All for Transportation.
“The tax is being collected, voters are out there frustrated with the status quo. They want to see that money they’re paying go to improvements.”
Commissioner White is referring further comments on the lawsuit to his attorneys.