Tampa Mayor Castor emboldened by transportation tax vote results?

City voters did approve increasing the sales tax to pay for transportation.
Mayor Jane Castor details her proposed budget to the Tampa City Council Meeting on Thursday.
Mayor Jane Castor details her proposed budget to the Tampa City Council Meeting on Thursday. [ CHLOE TROFATTER | Times ]
Published Aug. 5

As she proposed a budget with a property tax rate increase of one mill, or about 16 percent, much of which would go for transportation, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor likely was encouraged by the city’s past votes on the All For Transportation sales tax measure.

The countywide 1-cent sales tax passed easily countywide in 2018, but then was ruled in violation of the county charter as result of a lawsuit by former Hillsborough County Commissioner Stacy White. Placed again on the 2022 ballot, it failed narrowly.

But just in the precincts that make up the city of Tampa, the measure passed easily in both elections – suggesting political opposition to Castor’s tax increase may be difficult to drum up.

In 2018, All for Transportation passed 64% to 35% percent in the city precincts. In 2022, it passed 57% to 43% in the city while failing 51% to 49% countywide.

Moreover, noted All for Transportation campaign spokesman Preston Rudie, the 2022 countywide loss appeared to result from a sharp dropoff of “yes” votes within the city. “No” votes in the city were about the same in both elections, but “yes” votes declined by about 27,000, enough to have caused the measure to pass countywide a second time had those votes been cast again.

Castor’s proposed tax hike would generate about $45 million, of which the biggest chunk, about 40%, would go for transportation infrastructure.

“A strong majority of Tampa residents twice in four years voted to raise their own taxes because of the poor condition of their roads and their desire for other transportation options. They want action now, and we’re listening,” Castor said through a spokesman Thursday.