TAMPA — Hillsborough County’s proposed 1% sales tax for transportation picked up key support Wednesday from Republican Sheriff Chad Chronister.
“This investment in fixing our transportation infrastructure will help make everyone safer,” Chronister said in a statement released by All For Transportation, the committee advocating for the referendum.
“Supporting an initiative that reduces traffic injuries and fatalities while allowing for faster response times for first responders is smart and I am confident that this plan will help do that,” Chronister said, pointing to more sidewalks, bike lanes and expanded road lanes the tax would finance.
Chronister is the only elected Republican holding countywide office in Hillsborough. His endorsement contrasts to the “no” votes from Republican commissioners Ken Hagan and Stacy White, who opposed the sales tax ordinance in April.
The county’s firefighters’ union also endorsed the initiative voters will consider Nov. 8.
“For at least the past 15 years, Hillsborough County’s infrastructure spending has not been able to keep pace with our growth,” said Tim Pearson, president of Hillsborough County Firefighters Local 2294. “As first responders, we fight through traffic every day trying to get to someone’s emergency and each year it gets harder as more cars are on the roads.”
Chronister’s backing also differs from the stated opposition from Joshua Wostal and Scott Levinson — Republican candidates running for county commission seats.
“While it’s never a good time to raise taxes, the cost of doing nothing is staggering,” said Chronister.
If voters approve the 30-year tax, 45% of the proceeds would be earmarked for the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority. The county and the cities of Tampa, Temple Terrace and Plant City would divide 54.5% based on their populations, and 0.5% would be set aside for the Hillsborough Transportation Planning Organization.
The tax is projected to raise $342 million in its first full year of collections.
“No matter where you live or work, the All for Transportation plan benefits everyone in our county, including our first responders, who see firsthand the tragedy that comes along with having some of the most dangerous roads in the country,” said Tyler Hudson, co-chairperson of All for Transportation.