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More than Bucs have stake in vote

For months, talk of a new stadium for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has dominated the discussion of the half-cent sales tax increase on the Sept. 3 ballot.

But the new stadium, which would cost $319-million with interest and contingencies, represents just one-eighth of the $2.7-billion the tax would raise during its 30-year life.

The rest of the money would be spent on myriad public projects, from storm drains to roads, new schools and more jail cells. Today, The Times presents the full list of projects and their estimated cost.

The School Board voted to accept 25 percent of the money raised by the tax _ $678-million. The board has approved a building plan for the first 15 years of the tax.

The rest of the money is distributed among Hillsborough County and its three cities on a population-based formula written into state law. The law requires that the proceeds be spent only on capital projects, not on operating expenses such as salaries.

The county would get 70.2 percent ($1.2-billion), Tampa 25.8 percent ($443-million). Plant City would get 2.3 percent ($39-million) and Temple Terrace, 1.7 percent ($30-million).

The county has approved a six-year spending list. The cities have approved five-year lists. Each party has agreed that the money would supplement current building funds _ not replace them. Elected officials say they want to avert any charges of a "lottery"-style diversion of funds.

The sales tax is currently 6.5 percent. Last fall voters rejected two separate half-cent increases, for law enforcement and school construction. Exit polling found high levels of voter distrust about how officials would spend the proceeds. Officials are hoping that this time their detailed lists of projects will help assuage such skepticism.

The Tampa City Council is expected on Thursday to vote on Mayor Dick Greco's proposed project list.

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