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Tampa Chamber supports another vote on Go Hillsborough- but only if it’s for 20 years

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce says it will support the  the Hillsborough County Commission approving the half-cent Go Hillsborough transportation tax on the ballot in November – but only if it goes for 20 years.

That’s a problem, in that the motion approved recently for a public hearing on June 9 public calls for the tax to last 15 years.

Last month, the BOCC narrowly rejected the proposal to put a half-cent sales tax referendum on the November ballot that would raise $117 million annually for 30 years.  After more than two years of public discussion and work done by the Policy Leadership Group (which consisted of the seven commissioners, the mayors of Tampa, Temple Terrace and Plant City, and HART officials), it looked like that effort had gone for naught, and might not be revisited for another four years.

But almost immediately afterwards, the board, after voting down other proposals in their current budget to spend on transportation, voted on bringing back the Go Hillsborough proposal one more time, but this time for 15 years.

The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce had, after some delay, came out in support of the half-cent sales tax at 30 years. Now they say they can compromise behind 20 years, but 15 they say is too short.

“This is an insufficient response to our community’s transportation needs and we urge our County Commissioners to revisit their prior actions and support the option of a half-cent sales tax for a duration of at least 20 years,” reads the statement issued on Thursday.

“Voters should have the right to make the decision on the funding of our future transportation options and our elected officials have the responsibility of giving them a viable solution.”

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn has been critical of any tax shorter than 30 years, saying that he cannot get the bonding to help pay for any transit projects in Tampa. He has not said much of anything about a s

Commissioners could revise their proposal when they hold their public hearing on June 9. In fact, after the 30-year-half-cent sales tax proposal was rejected at the April 27 meeting, a second vote on cutting the duration of the tax to 20 years was proposed- and defeated.

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Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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