$500M in road projects get green light10/17/07 Mitch E.Perry
WMNF Drive-Time News Wednesday | Listen to this entire show:
Despite warnings that they may handicap future county officials, the Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners today approved $500 million in transportation improvements.
The board voted 5-2, with Commissioners Jim Norman and Brian Blair voting no.
Norman said that allocating so much money on one specific issue will leave little money available from the half-cent sales tax for future boards to contend with.
But Norman was virtually a lone voice. Instead, there were many more reasons expressed to support the plan, which came out of a Task Force chaired by Commissioner Ken Hagen.
Commissioner Mark Sharpe admitted it is an expensive expenditure, but said there is a serious need for road improvements that will only get more expensive if the board delays.
The Community Investment Tax (CIT) was approved by Hillsborough voters back in 1996. The half-cent sales tax was to last for 30 years. But less than a dozen years after its inception, county officials say thereâ€™s only about $250 million dollars left from a tax that will last 19 more years.
Budget Director Eric Johnson told the commissioner there are other major projects that the CIT is expected to fund in the near future, including expanding court facilities and adding hundreds of more beds to the Falkenberg Road Jail.
Johnson also said that it is expected that this or a future commission would put a measure on the ballot to extend the CIT upon its completion in 2026.
But Commissioner Jim Norman said that is by no means a done deal. He referenced the fact that the tax failed miserably when Hillsborough citizens initially had a chance to approve it, and only came around when the measure was tweaked to include financing for Raymond James Stadium, the football home for the popular Tampa Bay Bucaneers and USF Bulls.
But Norman was joined only by Commissioner Brian Blair in rejecting the proposal, which was approved on a 5-2 vote.