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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Future Hillsborough County ballot initiatives could include pricetag



Voters in Hillsborough County will get to decide whether future ballot initiatives should include a financial impact statement.

The county's Charter Review Board, in its final meeting Monday, voted 11-3 to place a question on the 2012 ballot that, if approved, would require a financial impact statement for future local ballot questions. The state has a similar provision for proposed constitutional changes placed on the ballot.

The local ballot question had been sought by tea party activists who had fought against the November referendum on whether to approve a Hillsborough County sales-tax increase to pay primarily for new transit. Among other things, they argued that voters should have been told the long-term cost of the initiative. The measure failed anyway.

In a move that watered down Monday's proposal, the Charter Review Board agreed that the financial impact statement should be only a two-year cost estimate. One of the Charter Review Board members had floated a 20-year cost estimate and then a five-year window, but failed to win support for either.

That's significant. A 20-year financial impact statement on the transit initiative might have claimed that the cost to taxpayers would reach more than $4 billion. If the proposal approved Monday had been in place, the impact statement would have been less than $400 million.


[Last modified: Monday, January 31, 2011 6:01pm]


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