1. Transportation

Commissioner Stacy White asks for a quick ruling in Hillsborough transportation lawsuit

Traffic moves west on Bloomingdale Avenue near Goronto Lakes during afternoon rush hour recently. A one-cent sales tax approved in November by Hillsborough County voters would generate $276 million a year for road and transit projects aimed at reducing congestion. In his lawsuit challenging the tax, County Commissioner Stacy White is asking a judge this week to make a quick ruling. [LUIS SANTANA | Times]
Published Dec. 20, 2018

TAMPA — County Comissioner Stacy White is asking a judge to speed up the timeline on his lawsuit challenging the one-cent transportation sales tax voters passed in November.

White's attorney, Chris Altenbernd, wrote in a motion filed Wednesday that the tax takes effect on Jan. 1 and "it would be better to resolve this case faster rather than slower."

Another reason: Altenbernd is leaving for a three-week prepaid anniversary trip to New Zealand with his wife on Jan. 14 and wants this settled before then.

The emergency motion argues that the case should be "a relatively straightforward decision for the Court," because a majority of the counts raised in the lawsuit focus on whether the county tax is inconsistent with state law

White filed the lawsuit on Dec. 4 asserting that the charter amendment voters approved to raise money for transportation projects is in conflict with Florida statutes. White, who opposed the sales tax, said the new citizens committee set up as part of the referendum usurps the authority of elected officials to allocate the money — a responsibility protected under Florida law.

The lawsuit also says the referendum unlawfully prevents county commissioners from using proceeds of the tax to add lanes to existing roads and build new streets. White said the ballot language led voters to believe these were a priority in the referendum.

His motion also encouraged the judge to rule quickly on whether All for Transportation, the political committee responsible for placing the referendum on the ballot and helping it pass, can join the case. White sued 10 different parties — namely local governments and the county's bus agency — but did not include the advocacy group.

All for Transportation leaders asked a judge in a separate motion Wednesday to allow them to participate as a party in the case.

Also Wednesday, Hillsborough County Clerk of the Court Pat Frank, who is a defendant in the case, filed her response to White's lawsuit.

As county clerk and comptroller, Frank said she was confident that the transportation tax is not inconsistent with state law. Hillsborough County's charter allows citizens to put amendments on the ballot, Frank's response said. And the Florida Legislature delegates approval of charter amendments to voters in the county.

Frank also argues that the sales tax is not in conflict with state law and implied that White filed his lawsuit because he was unhappy that voters approved the tax.

"While perhaps (White) did not want Hillsborough County to adopt the surtax and may not be happy with the results … the citizens properly exercised their right to first initiate and then approve the transportation surtax," the document said.

The case is scheduled for a status hearing at 10 a.m. Friday.

Contact Caitlin Johnston at or . Follow .


  1. Florida had 381,300 jobs in the manufacturing sector in September. [Times 2016]
    No matter how many times you hear that the country doesn’t make anything anymore, don’t believe it.
  2. The Sunshine Skyway Bridge is lit up in patriotic red white and blue colors in honor of Veteran's Day 2019. This view is shot from Skyway Beach looking south. Shot with a 400mm f4.0 lens with an ISO of 100 at F11 with a 10 second exposure. BOYZELL HOSEY  |  Tampa Bay Times
    FDOT engineers switched on a patriotic theme in a colorful tribute to veterans.
  3. The Falcon 9 rocket sits on Kennedy Space Center's historic Pad 39A in Cape Canaveral on Thursday.[SpaceX via AP]
    The company deployed a second batch of 60 satellites for its Starlink communications constellation.
  4. Northwood Plams Boulevard in Wesley Chapel has been closed for six months for sewer repair, and residents are ready for it to reopen. After a couple delays, Pasco County expects the project to be complete by the end of the week. Times File
    A Wesley Chapel reader wants to know when Northwood Palms Boulevard will reopen.
  5. Shown here are photographs of damaged parking meters along Central Avenue in downtown St. Petersburg. Those responsible for the damage were arrested Friday evening, according to city police. Times
    Three times in two weeks, police found city parking meters damaged with foam. Now a man and woman are in custody on felony charges.
  6. Metered parking spots like these along the 200 block of First Avenue S in St. Petersburg, along with spots in surrounding areas, have been changed to include weekend and more evening hours. DANIEL FIGUEROA IV  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The city recently extended metered hours to include nights and weekends and is working to phase out most free parking downtown.
  7. Pat and Harvey Partridge visit Waiheke Island in New Zealand in April. A preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board shows Partridge struggled to find the runway on approach to Raleigh-Durham International Airport last month before the Piper he was flying struck a pine tree and crashed. Both of them were killed. Courtesy of David Partridge
    Harvey Partridge told a tower controller he had the runway in sight just before crashing into a 100-foot tall pine tree, according to the NTSB.
  8. Nov. 5• Transportation
    Tampa traffic backs up at a familiar spot: near the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts before a show. Where's that transportation tax we voted in to soothe our traffic woes? URSO, CHRIS  |  Tampa Bay Times
    With the transportation tax in legal limbo, maybe not so much. But public officials give some hope.
  9. Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority CEO Ben Limmer, center, talks with Stephen Simon, president of Tampa's Amalgamated Transit Union, and Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister while riding a county bus last month. Limmer was placed on paid leave Monday by the agency board as they investigate claims against him related to procurement irregularities. CAITLIN JOHNSTON  |  Caitlin  Johnston
    Ben Limmer became CEO of the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority this spring after working in Atlanta and Phoenix.
  10. When Terminal A at PortMiami opened in late 2018, it accommodated Royal Caribbean's massive Oasis-class ships. The $247 million project created one of the world's biggest cruise terminals and increased Royal Caribbean's passenger count at the port by a projected 1 million.
    Florida will finally be home to Royal Caribbean’s Quantum-class of ships when Odyssey of the Seas debuts in slightly more than a year.