Sun City Center residents discuss transit options listen07/15/09 Seán Kinane
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Later this year, the Hillsborough County Commission will decide whether to place a referendum on the November 2010 general election ballot asking residents if they want to increase sales tax by a penny in order to pay for transit.
Today in Sun City Center, people living in south county weighed in on what future transit choices they prefer. Joy Gasser thinks that Hillsborough should rely on more than just a sales tax increase to fund transportation.
Eileen Courter lives in Sun City Center and would support a penny sales tax increase if it means better bus service.
Courter’s husband, Paul Courter, is working on the Greater Sun City Center Community Plan. He said he hasn’t decided whether to support the sales tax increase for transit.
Before the meeting, which drew about 25 residents, Paul Courter examined mid-term and long-term transit maps from the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority, or TBARTA.
Courter discussed what he hoped to see for Sun City Center with Brandie Miklus, who represents TBARTA with Jacobs Engineering. “Sun City Tampa residents can use the supporting [bus] network that TBARTA is proposing.”
Ray Chiaramonte is executive director of the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization, which will adopt a long range transportation plan in December. The county-wide plan they are crafting is based on a one-cent sales tax increase going toward transportation, according to Chiaramonte.
“[What we’re looking at is] ultimately - long, long term - some type of rail connection for the south county area.” Chiaramonte says that with a dedicated local funding source for transit - such as from a sales tax increase – the county will be much more likely to get state and federal matching funds.
Ned Baier is manager of transportation planning for Hillsborough County.
Ed Crawford is public affairs officer for HART – the county’s transportation provider. In addition to express bus service expected to serve south Hillsborough in the future, Crawford says that Sun City Center residents could see on-demand bus service this year.
Crawford says the on-demand service will “likely” have the same fare as a bus. He explained HART’s plans to Nick Avella, who wants to see light rail in Sun City Center
Audrey Vietzke wants more transportation options, but she says that rather than raising the sales tax, revenue should be raised by increasing road tolls, parking fees, and vehicle registration fees.
Anne Cross is one of the nine Community Association directors at Sun City Center but spoke only for herself. Cross says that when she moved from Boston, she was “shocked” that there was no rail system and people had to rely on cars.