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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Tampa Chamber vague on support of Hillsborough transportation sales tax increase

Traffic backup on eastbound Lutz-Lake Fern Road at Sunlake Boulevard.

Times Photo

Traffic backup on eastbound Lutz-Lake Fern Road at Sunlake Boulevard.

20

November

Tampa’s business community weighed in on Hillsborough County’s transportation funding debate — kind of.

In a somewhat cryptic statement approved Thursday and released today, the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce board of directors said it would “support a referendum that includes measureable (sic) transportation outcomes, including mobility options and additional funding sources.” It also said that the board believes “transportation investment in the community requires additional funding sources to solve our transportation challenges.”

The statement stopped well short of endorsing a referendum for a half-cent sales tax increase to fund transportation projects, the option recommended by Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill and advanced Nov. 5 by the Policy Leadership Group, a body of Hillsborough commissioners and leaders from the three cities. Hillsborough commissioners are expected to vote in the next couple months whether to put the sales tax hike on the 2016 ballot.

The chamber’s statement did not mention the sales tax at all, and it’s not clear if the chamber believes the construction plan tied to the sales tax proposal has “measurable transportation outcomes.”

Support from businesses is critical to getting the ballot initiative passed next year. Proponents of the sales tax option are banking on business groups and executives to help bankroll the campaign for Go Hillsborough in 2016, and they hope the business community — which often maligns the region’s transportation woes as an impediment to Tampa’s growth and recruitment efforts — will vocally support the referendum.

Here’s the full release from the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.

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TAMPA, Fla. – Yesterday, the Board of Directors of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce approved the following statement addressing transportation investment in Hillsborough County:

"The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, the leading voice of the business community, believes that transportation investment in the community requires additional funding sources to solve our transportation challenges that are consistent with the Chamber’s Transportation Guiding Principles. The Chamber supports the right of citizens to vote on issues of taxation, including a referendum. The Chamber will support a referendum that includes measureable transportation outcomes, including mobility options and additional funding resources."

The Chamber has worked diligently through our committee process to engage the business community by identifying their transportation concerns and educating our members on those issues. The Chamber is committed to continuing our leadership role in promoting the development and funding of cost-effective regional transportation systems that will support economic development and improve the quality of life for residents.  We look forward to continuing our role in this process to identify solutions for the transportation needs in Hillsborough County including the current discussion about Go Hillsborough.

[Last modified: Friday, November 20, 2015 2:48pm]

    

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