Tampa Chamber calls on members to lobby for 20-year transportation tax
TAMPA — The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce is pushing its members to lobby Hillsborough County commissioners ahead of Thursday's vote on whether to raise the sales tax for transportation.
In a letter to members Monday, chamber transportation council co-chairs Kim DeBosier and Christopher Rogers asked them to call and write commissioners in support of a half cent sales tax surcharge of at least 20 years. Anything less, they said, "lacks the financial commitment needed for major transit options."
"Hillsborough must look to the future of transportation while meeting the needs of today," the letter said.
Commissioners voted 4-3 against a sales tax hike of 20 years and 30 years in April. On Thursday, they're scheduled to take up the issue again during a 6 p.m. public hearing at the Hillsborough County Center in downtown Tampa. While the initial motion to reconsider a sales tax hike was for a 15-year tax, in reality, all options can be voted on.
If approved, voters will have their say in November referendum. The chamber has launched a "Yes! to 20" campaign in support of a long-term tax.
The letter from DeBosier and Rogers noted the four commissioners who voted "no" in April — Victor Crist, Al Higginbotham, Sandy Murman and Stacy White. It also sent talking points and a sample letter to send to email to their office.
Talking points included:
About 1.3 million people live in Hillsborough County, with that number expected to double in the next 20 years. Without significant investments in transportation options, we are setting ourselves up for a future of traffic jams.
The Chamber is committed to working with our members and the business community to advocate for transportation improvements. It is clear to our members that we need better roads, more transit options, and safer streets for pedestrians. Our businesses and families need a transportation system that will support them.
The Chamber has advocated for transportation investments in the region that will support economic development and improve our quality of life. By investing in better roads, more transit, and pedestrian safety, we can accomplish these dual goals. The cost of doing nothing is greater than the cost of investing in transportation options that will support our community.
Families and businesses keep moving here. We need a multimodal transportation system that makes sure everyone isn’t stuck in traffic all day. Otherwise, we will get to a point where congestion and our lack of transportation options becomes a drag on our economy and quality of life.