HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — The Hillsborough County Commission decided that voters would have the final say on another transportation tax.
During a lengthy meeting, commissioners voted 5-2 to include the 30-year 1-percent tax on the November ballot.
The money raised from the tax would be used to address transportation needs, like adding in more lanes, improving lighting conditions and creating and improving sidewalks and curb extensions.
Roughly 45 percent of the money would be allocated to Hillsborough Regional Transit Authority (HART).
There is some controversy about the tax referendum. The county passed a tax measure with similar goals in 2018. But it was struck down by the Florida Supreme Court in 2020 for being unconstitutionally passed and implemented.
The money collected from the 2018 tax has not been used or returned to taxpayers. It is left to the state legislature to decide what to do with the money.
"Are [the two tax referendems] similar? Yes," County Commissioner Kimberly Overman explained. "There have been tweaks here and there. We've negotiated a bit of a change here and there. But for the most part, both the one in '18 and the one that is being looked at this evening at the hearing is in line with the transportation plan."
Overman said without the tax referendum, the county is losing out on federal funding that would go to helping the roads even further.
"[It] would allow us to qualify for the infrastructure and jobs act funding, which is the largest national commitment to infrastructure this country has ever made," Overman said. "Those projects at the federal level require a local match."
Those opposed to the tax say it will add to Hillsborough County residents' costs when inflation is already changing peoples' budgets.
Overman said this tax is needed, with more and more people moving to Hillsborough County every month.