Hillsborough Commissioners approve Higginbotham's transportation plan

County leaders have today to approve a budget including major transportation fixes.

***UPDATE***

The Board of County Commissioners voted 7-0 to approve Commissioner Al Higginbotham’s transportation plan.

His plan would dedicate $600 million over the next decade to transportation, beginning with $35 million in 2017 and increasing the amount by $5 million each following year. 

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ORIGINAL STORY:

Running out of time and about to run out of options. Thursday is the very last chance for Hillsborough County Commissioners to find a solution to pay for fixes on the roads you drive on.

Commissioners have to put the final touches on next year’s budget by September 15, and Thursday is the last commission meeting before that date.

The county desperately needs the money for dozens of projects.

The roads are congested, in need of repairs and sometimes dangerous. Commissioners know they need to widen roads, add more traffic signals, sidewalks and fix things like potholes but they can't seem to agree on how to get the money.

After months and months of proposals, including a sales tax, which voters and county leaders nixed, the final two remaining plans won't force you to pay any extra in taxes.

Plan #1: Commissioner Al Higginbotham is proposing putting $600 million of the county budget over the next 10 years to transportation, starting with $35 million in 2017 and increasing the amount by $5 million each year after. Projects to improve safety projects and road maintenance would get top priority.

Plan #2: Commissioner Sandy Murman is proposing dedicating one-third of future growth in property and sales tax revenues to transportation. Her plan would bring in $220 million more than Higginbotham’s plan, but may be less stable and reliable because it is subject to swings in property values.

Both plans will be discussed and voted on Thursday.

If none of these plans go through, commissioners will have to wait until next year to finally come up with a solution, but they are under a lot of pressure to get something passed.

Meanwhile, a recent study by Tom Tom found here in Tampa Bay we waste 41 hours a year and between $600 and $907 in gas sitting in traffic. That's why commissioners are urged to make a decision to make dozens of roads less congested.

Things are only going to get worse. The Southern part of Hillsborough County is growing like crazy. More families are moving out here every day and that means sharing the roads with more people. 

(© 2016 WTSP)


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