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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Iorio gets ready for rail discussion



How important is the Hillsborough County Commission's discussion Wednesday about a referendum on rail to Mayor Pam Iorio? So important that she has cleared her calendar for the day so she can be there.

“They’re taking a very important step for this community, and they need to be able to look out in the audience and know there are people there behind them," Iorio said. She said she won't sign up to be a speaker at the meeting, but will be available to answer any questions if asked. And she said she will be in the audience at any future meetings when commissioners consider asking voters if they would support a 1 cent sales tax to pay for rail and other transportation projects.

How the referendum plays out will be a huge part of Iorio's legacy when she leaves the mayor's office in 17 months. It was three years ago that she encouraged elected officials and business leaders throughout the region to dust off old rail plans, a move that brought Hillsborough County to its current point.

At the time, County Commissioner Mark Sharpe urged caution in moving ahead with such plans, saying they need to be part of an overall transportation plan that includes roads. Now, he's one of the leaders of the referendum pack. One point he likes to make: Only 37 percent of the money generated by the sales tax will go to rail; the rest will go to improve bus service and roads.

Janet Zink, Times Staff Writer


[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 12:16pm]


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