Jane Castor makes case for transportation tax during State of the City address
Tampa’s municipal elections will likely re-elect Jane Castor and change the power structure in Hillsborough County. Image via the Tampa Bay Business Journal.

Jane Castor
'We can choose to be a city with world-class transit and safe options for getting around instead of growing potholes and traffic jams.'

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor Wednesday used part of her annual State of the City speech to make a case for the reintroduction of Hillsborough County’s All for Transportation tax.

“This moment in time presents us with enormous opportunities and responsibilities,” Castor said. “We can choose to be a city where households of all income levels have housing opportunities and choices. We can choose to be a city with world-class transit and safe options for getting around instead of growing potholes and traffic jams.”

Hillsborough County voters in 2018 overwhelmingly approved the initial iteration of the All for Transportation Tax, a one-cent sales tax that created a transportation-specific pool of funds for Hillsborough County and its municipalities. But Commissioner Stacy White successfully sued to get the tax removed on the grounds that it was unconstitutional because spending rules were set by voters, not elected officials. The more than $500 million raised while the tax was active between January 2019 and February 2021 is still in limbo as lawmakers plan to reintroduce the measure on November’s ballot.

Castor said money raised from the tax is crucial to Tampa’s transportation future. She said Tampa is finally being recognized as a great American city with constant accolades as a place people and businesses want to come. By 2040, the city is expected to grow by at least 100,000 more residents. But Castor said that’s come with many challenges as well. Florida is now considered among the least affordable places to live, with Tampa experience the worst of the cost increase.

One of the most dire crises created by recent migration is affordable housing. As cities around the state and country address housing, more and more leaders point to robust transportation systems as a way to mitigate housing needs. Reliable transportation systems incorporating public transportation and safe pedestrian routes can cut back on traffic and household spending, Castor said. It can also mean people who don’t drive can make it to work.

“Tampa could have a transportation system that is our crown jewel, that provides mobility for all, connects residents to jobs and opportunities, and one that is safe for everyone,” she said.

“For this vision to become reality, it is absolutely critical that Hillsborough County voters pass the one-cent transportation referendum this November. This would provide the city of Tampa with the resources it needs to fix and build the transportation systems demanded by our population. And at least 20% or more of that sales tax revenue is paid for by out-of-town visitors. This will give us a dedicated funding source for transportation that, in part, is paid for by tourism.”

Castor did point to a number of projects the city is not waiting for a transportation tax to push forward. The city secured $25 million for pedestrian safety in Tampa Heights; $25 million dollars in federal funding to build the west riverwalk connecting West Tampa with Tampa Heights, downtown and South Tampa; and a $65 million grant extending street car service.

“Transportation is not just about getting people from point A to point B. It’s a quality of life issue for all residents,” Castor said. “I won’t sugar coat it, we have a lot of work to do. With every new resident and job comes increased traffic. We do not want, nor can we handle, that many additional cars, so we need alternatives. Our options are limited. And we cannot widen our way out of this issue.”

Daniel Figueroa IV

Bronx, NY —> St. Pete, Fla. Just your friendly, neighborhood journo junkie with a penchant for motorcycles and Star Wars. Daniel has spent the last decade covering Tampa Bay and Florida for the Ledger of Lakeland, Tampa Bay Times, and WMNF. You can reach Daniel Figueroa IV at [email protected]


2 comments

  • Edward Lyle

    May 12, 2022 at 11:22 am

    “We can choose to be a city with world-class transit and safe options for getting around instead of growing potholes and traffic jams.”

    So… is Castor admitting that she’s incapable or unwilling to do her job here? Is she intentionally ignoring the pothole and traffic management problem in order to push her tax-n-spend agenda?

  • Just a comment

    May 18, 2022 at 9:09 am

    Seriously we can choose to kick out the greedy north like rock

Comments are closed.


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