Sales tax increase gets enough signatures for Hillsborough ballot
Activists with All for Transportation dropping off about 5K petitions to the Hillsborough SOE Friday morning. The group seeks to get a new transit sales tax on the November ballot.

Petition Drop 5 copy

The head of a citizens group trying to place a sales tax increase before Hillsborough County voters to pay for long-term transportation needs said the goal has been achieved.

“We will be on the ballot in November,” Tyler Hudson, chairman of All For Transportation, said after his citizens’ group led a petition drive that bypassed the County Commission and went straight to the people.

The threshold is about 49,000 valid signatures turned in to the Supervisor of Elections Office by today’s deadline.

Hudson said volunteers have gathered more than 70,000 signed petitions so far and expects to have even more by the end of the day. The signatures will have to be validated by the elections office, but he said he doesn’t believe that will be a problem.

“We try to make sure before we have anyone sign a petition that they’re registered to vote here,” he said.

About six weeks ago, the group began a frantic push to place a one-cent per dollar sales tax increase for 30 years on the ballot in November. The tax, estimated to generate $280 million the first year, will be divvied up among Hillsborough Area Rapid Transit, the county, and the cities of Tampa, Temple Terrace and Plant City for a variety of transportation needs.

The effort was buoyed by $150,000 contributions each from Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, businessman and philanthropist Frank Morsani, the Tampa Bay Partnership business group, and a development firm owned by the family of former Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Patrick Murphy.

The grassroots strategy was used after the County Commission by a 4-3 margin against putting a transit plan called “Go Hillsborough” on the 2016 ballot. The petition drive is a rarely used gambit that will amend the county’s charter, making Commission approval unnecessary.

Without substantial upgrades, the county’s already chronic substandard transportation system could be overwhelmed in a few years as projections call for explosive population growth.

“This is historic,” Hudson said. “To have 70,000 or more signed petitions tells you what people think about this issue.”

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.


  • Jim Davison DO

    July 27, 2018 at 6:22 am

    Joe we will see how the validation process turns out. Then we will debate this plan and the “other plan” plan that doesn’t raise taxes, supplies greater economic dividends, supplies affordable housing, stabilizes neighborhoods, provides greater mobility and congestion relief and leaves money in your pocket. Today I deliver that plan to the Hillsborough County Citizen’s Advisory Committee just as the BOCC voted 6-0 to do. If Tyler or anyone else would like to debate the plans before them I am at their service.

  • Jason York

    July 27, 2018 at 5:53 pm

    I’m all for a transportation plan that would prioritize the urban core and public transportation over more, wider, and “further out” road construction. If this plan does this, it has my vote and my penny. If not…

  • Michael Kersmarki

    July 27, 2018 at 8:42 pm

    A good read if you really want to understand the FACTS about how the economics of public transportation are evolving:

    (Congressional Research Service, March 2018)

    … transit ridership has FALLEN in many of the top 50 transit markets. If strong gains in the New York area are excluded, RIDERSHIP nationally DECLINED by 7 PERCENT over the past decade.

    … the drop in the price of gasoline over the past few years and the growing popularity of bike-share and ride-sourcing services, appear to have adversely affected transit ridership.

    … average fares have risen faster than inflation, possibly deterring riders.

    SHORT TO MEDIUM TERM … likely to depend on population growth; public transportation funding commitment (and other factors, i.e. price of parking, highway congestion & use of fuel taxes, tolls, and mileage-based user fees.

    LONG TERM … ridership likely to depend on autonomous vehicle technology … Fleets of driverless taxis hailed with a smartphone, a plausible scenario, promise to be much cheaper than taxis and ride-sourcing today.

    ONE OPTION to boost ridership without raising (federal) funding would be to tie federal formula funds to ridership or fare revenue. If the most consequential uncertainty for transit ridership is the introduction of autonomous vehicles, federal funding might focus on buses, which last about 10 years, and NOT new rail systems that last 30 years or more.

    ANOTHER OPTION would be to redirect CIG funding from building new rail systems and lines to refurbishing rail transit in the large and dense cities where rail transit currently carries large numbers of riders.

    If you click on the link and look at any one thing in the report, look at Figure 3. Ridership Change in Smaller Transit Markets, 2006-2016 (40 Largest Transit Markets Outside Top 10)

    THAT chart clearly shows that in fully HALF of these markets, ridership is DOWN, in many cases by DOUBLE DIGITS during that 10-year period.

    Just imagine what those types of declines – especially as technology and other factors make more inroads in transportation – would do to city and county budgets forced to increase annual ridership subsidies to compensate for fewer riders and/or exaggerated/erroneous ridership estimates by commuter rail proponents.

    Voters should ask ALL candidates for County Commission where they stand on ridership future SUBSIDIES that are likely to grow and grow and grow, year after year after year, blowing one hole after another in annual city and county budgets.

    Please ask them how we can afford BOTH taxpayer subsidies for a nearly $1 billion dollar stadium AND likely annual ridership subsidies for commuter rail.

    Or, just hand over your wallet. Basically, that’s what supporters of tax increases/public subsidies for BOTH a $1 billion stadium AND commuter rail are asking you to do.

    • Jason York

      July 28, 2018 at 10:20 am

      That is if you support both. I don’t support any money fo the stadium. I believe in the long term public transport must be a priority. We can not keep adding cars to the road. It just won’t work and is unsustainable. I also believe it would help curb sprawl. Our urban cores must be strengthened.

Comments are closed.


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