Advertisement
  1. Transportation

Final community meetings on Go Hillsborough transportation initiative start Monday

Will Hillsborough County residents be willing to pay more at the pump to fund transportation improvements?
Published May 11, 2015

TAMPA — A select group of residents has answered the county's toughest question regarding transportation in Hillsborough County: Are you willing to pay higher taxes to fund roads and transit?

Yes, more than half said, if it were a gas or sales tax.

Nearly 500 people filled out surveys at the county's last round of Go Hillsborough meetings, which aim to gather public ideas and opinions for a countywide transportation plan. More than 50 percent of respondents at all 12 locations, from New Tampa to Thonotosassa, said they are willing to consider an increase in gas or sales taxes. They were less receptive to paying higher property taxes.

But whether the rest of Hillsborough residents will be as amenable remains to be seen. Voters in 2010 shot down a proposed referendum to establish a 1-cent sales tax for transportation.

County Administrator Mike Merrill said he is encouraged but not surprised by the findings, though they come from less than 1 percent of the county's population.

"What the experts tell me is that is really a pretty statistically significant sample," Merrill said. "I think it's a good result, because it's coming from people who care enough to come out. And if they care enough to come out and invest their time, they probably care enough to vote."

Today marks the start of the last phase of meetings aimed at helping officials determine how best to address transportation issues. Whereas previous sessions produced a wish list and asked people how best to fund it, this round aims to build community consensus about how best to proceed.

People who attend the final four meetings can expect to take part in small group discussions focused on revenue choices and project needs, Merrill said.

Attendees will still be able to browse display boards showing the state of transportation in Hillsborough and the feedback gathered so far. From there, they can sit down in groups of five to 10 and talk with facilitators from the county and consulting firm.

The discussions will aim to build a supportable, community-driven transportation plan with an identified revenue source, said Bob Clifford, vice president of Parsons Brinckerhoff, the consulting firm organizing the meetings. This is the first time the meetings have included discussions instead of having people go through at their own pace.

"We're not looking for everybody to agree on everything," Clifford said. "We know that's not the case. The point is to allow everyone to be engaged and involved and see if, collectively, we can get to the same place."

The county paid Parsons Brinckerhoff more than $900,000 to organize outreach and put together a detailed transportation plan, which it will present to local leaders on June 11 at the policy leadership group meeting. Leaders will then have to decide whether they want to put a referendum on the 2016 ballot and, if so, what sort of tax it would ask voters to approve.

Contact Caitlin Johnston at cjohnston@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3401. Follow @cljohnst.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. A Thomas Cook plane on the tarmac at Gatwick Airport in Sussex, England Monday. British tour company Thomas Cook collapsed early Monday after failing to secure emergency funding, leaving tens of thousands of vacationers stranded abroad. (Steve Parsons/PA via AP) STEVE PARSONS  |  AP
    The collapse of the firm will have sweeping effects across the entire European and North African tourism industry and elsewhere.
  2. Traffic improvements near the Walmart store in Hudson include replacing this one-lane exit on the store's south side with a roundabout so motorists can travel in either direction on Beacon Woods Drive. JOSH SOLOMON  |  Tampa Bay Times
    A roundabout, rebuilt street, new driveways and a traffic light are planned for the area around a busy Walmart store.
  3. Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates.
    Charges in the incident are pending, the Florida Highway Patrol said.
  4. More construction is on the way to St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport, thanks to $19.75 million in Federal Aviation Administration grants to rehabilitate the airport’s runway. (Times file photo)
    The work is expected to be complete by spring 2021.
  5. An American Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft approaches Miami International Airport for landing in March. Bloomberg
    The 60-year-old veteran airline employee told investigators he was upset that union contract negotiations had stalled.
  6. In this April 24, 2019, photo, American Airlines aircraft are shown parked at their gates at Miami International Airport in Miami. A bail hearing is scheduled for a mechanic charged with sabotaging an American Airlines jetliner as part of a labor dispute. Prosecutors are seeking pretrial detention for 60-year-old Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani at a hearing Wednesday. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File) WILFREDO LEE  |  AP
    His arraignment on a sabotage-related charge is scheduled for Friday; if convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.
  7. Female driver texting on mobile phone while driving. STAR TRIBUNE  |  baona/Star Tribune/TNS
    Police are choosing to issue warnings instead of tickets — so far.
  8. The Hillsborough County Commission listens to a briefing in June about the lawsuit challenging the county's one-cent transportation sales tax. On Wednesday, reacting to a judge's ruling in that case, commissioners voted to restore the guidelines originally approved by voters on how the tax should be spent. [ANASTASIA DAWSON   |   Times]
    Commissioner Stacy White, who is challenging the tax in court, was the only “no” vote.
  9. Tampa has a pilot program underway to test scooters. Clearwater could soon have one of its own. But if it's limited to downtown, who will use it? CHRIS URSO  |   Times
    The city’s plan is coming into focus, but there will be limitations.
  10. A study found that two of the worst intersections in the country for running red lights are in the Tampa Bay area. Tampa Bay Times
    Two intersections are among the worst for running red lights
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement