TAMPA, Fla. — Hillsborough County commissioners voted Wednesday to have the County Attorney's Office write an ordinance that makes sure the "All For Transportation" sales tax gets spent on its original purpose: paying for transportation improvements around the county.
Four commissioners voted "yes" on the proposal: Lesley "Les" Miller Jr., Pat Kemp, Kimberly Overman and Mariella Smith. Three commissioners voted "no" on the proposal: Ken Hagan, Sandra Murman and Stacy White.
The commissioners who voted "no" wanted the half-cent sales tax to be used for other projects not originally in the plan.
Last November, voters approved an effort by All For Transportation to use new sales tax funds to pay for specific transit projects. A year earlier, commissioners approved more than $800 million for transportation improvement projects around the county.
County Administrator Mike Merrill proposed using some of the All For Transportation money to pay for already-approved transportation projects that qualify for the funds. He said this could free up property tax monies to pay for things like fire rescue services.
“My budget recommendation allows for critical investments in public safety, parks and affordable housing,” Merrill told 10News in an emailed statement Tuesday. “Ultimately, it is the Board’s decision.”
All For Transportation says the vote means the commission is listening to its constituents and directing funds toward the projects voters want.
"This is a huge step forward for implementing the balanced transportation plan voters approved in November that will address the most critical needs of our county – safer roads, reduced congestion, and expanded transit options," AFT Chairman Tyler Hudson said. "We look forward to standing with Commissioner Miller, Commissioner Kemp, Commissioner Smith, and Commissioner Overman to continue advocating on behalf of the 282,000 voters that made this extraordinary investment.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story did not accurately reflect the purpose of the vote. This piece has been updated.