Hillsborough parks referendum dies quietly
A proposal to ask voters if they'd support a slight property tax increase to pay for new parks, including a rebuilt Friendship Trail Bridge, died quiety Tuesday.
Commissioners tentatively set their tax rate Tuesday, which is their first step toward approving their budget. County Administrator Mike Merrill had floated the idea of including a slight, dedicated property tax hike to pay for $80 million worth of parks projects over the next 10 years.
Commissioners basically declined to take the topic up, effectively killing it.
"I think it's dead," Merrill said. "Which is fine. It was just an option. I'm not heartbroken."
Commissioner Mark Sharpe, who was advocating putting nearly $30 million of the potential proceeds from the tax hike toward rebuilding the Friendship Trail Bridge, took that option off the table today. Instead, he won support from fellow commissioners to seek new bids from companies willing to demolish the existing former span of the Gandy Bridge, rebuild it and operate it. He's hoping a proposal will emerge that would include a private-sector company stepping forward to pay for part of the costs and possibly operate the park once it's built.