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Hillsborough Co. set to approve All For Transportation funding allocations

The proposed allocations would honor the will of voters.

Hillsborough County Commissioners are scheduled to vote to reinstate funding allocations for the All For Transportation Sales Surtax voters approved last November.

The approved new county charter had initially provided for a specific funding matrix, but that was struck down as part of a legal challenge launched by Commissioner Stacy White. Hillsborough Circuit Judge Rex Barbas ruled the funding allocation formula usurped county authority under state law and instead ruled the County Commission could determine how funds would be allocated.

The proposed metric would restore the same allocations the voter-approved amendment contained.

If approved, it would provide $82.8 million this fiscal year for Hillsborough County transportation projects. That amount would jump to an estimated $115 million in 2020 and $119.5 million in 2021.

The prescribed allocations would also provide $25 million to the city of Tampa this year as well as $93.5 million to the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority. The cities of Temple Terrace and Plant City would get $1.8 million and $2.6 million, respectively.

HART’s share of the tax would jump to $130 million in 2020 and to $134.6 million in 2021. Tampa would get $34.5 million in 2020 and $35.8 million in 2021.

Temple Terrace would receive $2.4 million in 2020 and $2.5 million in 2021. Plant City would receive $3.6 million next year and $3.7 million the year after that.

The revenue estimates are based on project sales tax collection throughout Hillsborough County.

“Generally, the attached, proposed ordinance provides for the use, allocation and distribution of the proceeds of the Transportation Surtax in a manner consistent with the will of the electorate of Hillsborough County as expressed by the approval of the ballot measure on November 6, 2018, providing for the Original Charter Amendment,” the agenda item reads.

The All For Transportation tax is still in legal jeopardy. White as well as another petitioner, resident Bob Emerson, are challenging it at the Florida Supreme Court. The county recommends funded entities not spend allocated funds until that litigation is complete.

However, under the existing charter being challenged, governments and agencies must submit project plans to the Independent Oversight Committee prescribed under the county charter by Sept. 30. In order to do that, the Hillsborough County Commission must determine how funds should be allocated.

Based on Hillsborough County’s preliminary plans, HART has already proposed a spending plan, contingent upon final approval and the County Commission’s vote.

If the county’s proposed ordinance is enacted, it would still need to be reviewed again after the litigation with the Florida Supreme Court is complete.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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