Hillsborough County Commissioners voted unanimously on Wednesday to approve the list of projects to be built in the unincorporated areas of the county in the Go Hillsborough plan. The BOCC will vote next week on whether to put the half-cent sales tax on the November ballot.
Commissioner Sandy Murman was the most vigilant board member to question county officials about specific projects on the list, though she did acknowledge her pleasure in that half of the money, and a third of those projects on the list, are all located in South Hillsborough, an area that she represents and says has been left out of getting vital bus routes.
“I say amen,” she said, smiling.
“Does that mean we’ll get your vote?” asked County Commissioner Les Miller. “We take it one step at a time,” Murman responded.
Murman has already declared she won’t support the proposal. Miller says he will be voting for it.
Murman challenged Deputy County Administrator Lucia Garsys regarding whether specific routes, like a HART circulator in South Hillsborough County, were on the list of projects. Garsys said ultimately that HART CEO Katharine Eagan needed to provide written assurances on the timing of when that would come online.
In a separate motion, Commissioners unanimously approved an amendment offered by Kevin Beckner that would produce a “comprehensive, integrated transit systems plan,” which would be executed jointly with the county, HART, the Florida Department of Transportation and the Metropolitan Planning Organization all involved.
“We’re doing all this, but we gotta make sure it connects to a bigger system, and that everybody connects into a bigger system,” concurred Commissioner Sandy Murman.
“I think we fully need to have a regional perspective,” added Commissioner Ken Hagan.
County Administrator Mike Merrill says that would require a change in the final project list. He promised commissioners he’d have an update list to distribute to them by week’s end.
Board members realize that next Wednesday night’s public hearing on the proposed transportation tax could be a lengthy process, and some commissioners thought that the three-minutes usually allotted for public speaking should reduce to two minutes. Ultimately, Commission Chair Les Miller said he’d keep it at three minutes, for now, subject to changing that when he sees how many are in attendance on Wednesday night.
The hearing is 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 27. It will be at the All People’s Life Center, 6105 E Sligh Ave. in Tampa.