Task Force: Not all of referendum funds will go to transit

06/02/09 Mitch E. Perry
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Last night, the Hillsborough County Transportation Task Force held the second of its 12 planned meetings to inform residents about a possible 1-cent referendum for rail and other transportation projects on the 2010 ballot.

Although the emphasis has been about the funding becoming crucial for Tampa to begin to construct a light-rail system, Lucia Garces, speaking for the Transportation Task Force, said the meeting are also to learn what other projects that the public wants that tax to fund.

Garces said the plan is for the county to generate $178 million if the 1-cent referendum passes next year.

She said the Task Force is also looking at “non-transit mobility needs” that aren’t rail or bus. She said cities in the county have put in their requests for transportation money – Plant City’s came in over half a billion dollars, for example. And she said there are projects approved for funding that will now have to come off the boards.

Garces said a figure being discussed by the Hillsborough County Transportation Task Force is up to 25 percent of those revenues from the penny cent sales tax would go to non-transit.

Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner asked if trails would be a part of non-transit.

Garces said trails, sidewalks and continued intersection improvements might be a part of that mix.

County Commissioner Mark Sharpe said he was concerned about too much money being directed away from transit.

The Transportation Task Force will bring a final proposal to the County Commission in October. Meanwhile, further meetings will be held Wednesday and Thursday of this week. Tomorrow ‘s meeting will be at the Ragan Park Community Center at 1200 E. Lake Avenue in Tampa, and Thursday at the Bruton Memorial Library in Plant City. They run from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

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