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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Breaking down where Hillsborough leaders stand on a sales tax for transportation

5

November

Hillsborough leaders voted today to move forward with plans for a half-cent sales tax for transportation — but not everyone was on board. Here's the breakdown from today's Hillsborough Policy Leadership Group meeting, a gathering of elected county and city officials.

Supporting:

County Commissioner Ken Hagan: "Only one source has the most flexibility," Hagan said."That's a sales tax, like it or not." Hagan seconded Mayor Bob Buckhorn's motion that the policy leadership support County Administrator Mike Merrill's recommendation to move forward with the half-cent sales tax.

County Commissioner Kevin Beckner: "Everybody will benefit from something in this plan," Beckner said. "We have to start somewhere."

County Commissioner Victor Crist: After making it clear that he is still on the fence regarding a sales tax, Crist said he is willing to move the concept forward for sake of further debate. He said he isn't sure whether his constituents would vote for the tax, "but I just might be willing to give them the chance to make that decision themselves.

County Commissioner Les Miller: The commissioner said he believes sales taxes are regressive, however, he has heard loudly from his constituents that they need this. They need better bus service and they need better roads.

HART Chairman Mike Suarez: The sales tax plan "although not perfect, is something we can build upon."

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn: "We’re not going to get out of this transportation ditch piecemealing this thing," Buckhorn said before making the motion that the policy leadership group support Merrill's recommendation. "We should not be afraid to give the voters the chance to choose for themselves."

Temple Terrace Mayor Frank Chillura: The sales tax "has to happen," the mayor said. "If it doesn't happen, it's going to catch up to us and we will pay the price economically."

Plant City: A representative for the mayor, who was unable to attend, said Mayor Rick Lott is supportive of the sales tax and wants it to move forward. 

Opposing: 

County Commissioner Al Higginbotham: The commissioner said his vote was mostly one of protest. He supports where things are going, but is concerned by the recent controversy surrounding Go Hillsborough.

County Commissioners Sandy Murman: Murman is still advocating for her alternative plan released last night. Though she previously supported a sales tax referendum, she now is only interested in funding sources that don't require a referendum.

County Commissioner Stacy White: The commissioner has been steadfast in his opposition to a sales tax since the beginning of his time on the policy leadership group. He does not believe his constituents will vote for it.

Now that the PLG has voted to move forward with a plan based on the half-cent sales tax, it's up to the board of county commissioners to decide whether or not to put it on the ballot. The commissioners are expected to vote on the ballot language at a December meeting. Murman said she still plans to discuss her alternative plan at that commission meeting.

[Last modified: Thursday, November 5, 2015 4:53pm]

    

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