Monday, August 19, 2019

Time for Sunshine to Get Rid of the Transit Tax Storm Cloud

The All for Transportation (AFT) transit tax is a storm cloud of dishonesty and deception hovering over Hillsborough County.

Hillsborough County must get out from under the AFT storm clouds for the county to begin honestly and transparently addressing its transportation issues.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Raise Gas Tax to Spend Less on Transportation

Historically, ad valorem property tax revenues always funded transportation and road projects in Hillsborough County. However, when the recession hit in 2008, all property taxes that was funding transportation was diverted to other items and areas to balance the budget.

As the local economy recovered, those revenues were not re-diverted back to fund transportation and roads.

That finally changed in September 2016 when that Hillsborough County Commission approved a 10 year transportation funding policy.

BOCC Board Policy purpose was "to establish a fiscal policy of the Board of County Commissioners (“BOCC”) that transportation is one of Hillsborough County’s top priorities and that the proposed annual tentative budget for each fiscal year through FY 26 will reflect increases in funding for transportation uses".

The intent of the policy was to use the growth of existing revenues, including the growth of ad valorem property and sales tax revenues, to fund transportation and much needed new road capacity projects in Hillsborough County. The policy specifically excluded mobility fees and any new gas tax fee if implemented after the policy was in place. Those additional transportation revenue sources were intended to SUPPLEMENT the revenues included in the 10 year transportation funding policy.
BOCC 10 year transportation funding policy - mobility fees
& any new gas taxes were to SUPPLEMENT transportation funding
The $812 million transportation funding plan is still in place but we posted here about the attempt to get rid of that funding plan - even as all the legal issues with the All for Transportation $16 Billion transit tax are not yet resolved.

The attempt to officially begin tearing apart the $812 million funding plan starts at tomorrow's BOCC meeting. On the BOCC meeting agenda is item B-2 Revision to BOCC Transportation Funding Policy to:
Approve by supermajority vote the proposed revision to BOCC Policy Section Number regarding transportation funding to provide that the Five Cents Local Option Fuel Tax, if levied by the BOCC, is an eligible funding source under the policy.
What this change does is raise the gas tax on Hillsborough County residents without providing any additional transportation funding - that the BOCC stated was a top priority of the county.

It takes a super majority to implement any change to the 10 year transportation funding policy. It will take at least 5 commissioners to vote for the change.

And any commissioner who votes for this change is voting to raise taxes and spend less on transportation.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Foolish Power Players Supported Flawed Transit Tax

We continue our "Sunlight" series about All for Transportation's legally flawed $16 Billion transit tax and the insiders who were helping them.

We posted here about the genesis of the All for Transportation (AFT) transit tax. Transit advocate and community organizer Kevin Thurman created his "People's Plan" and shopped his transit tax political strategy to inside power players.

According to public records we received, Thurman targeted power players at Tampa International Airport and sent his transit tax presentations to Janet Scherberger last April.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Bait and Switch Launched To Throw Out $812 Million Policy that Funds New Road Capacity

 Dr. Jim Davison and Sharon Calvert contributed to this post.

The bait-and-switch technique is an old and well-known tool in retail and politics. It is one of the most infuriating situations to be in and it is happening in Hillsborough County.

Critics of the All for Transportation (AFT) 30 year $16 Billion transit sales tax voiced their concern over the possibility of such bait and switch occurring if the tax passed.

Monday, July 22, 2019

As Issues Come Home to Roost, Transit Tax Heads to FL Supreme Court

Many of the issues we raised last year about the All for Transportation (AFT) $16 Billion transit tax are coming home to roost.

Listen as the Eye speaks with Karen Jaroch, who helped lead the opposition to the AFT tax last year and raised warnings about its issues. We discuss how the All for Transportation mess started, what the county commission is doing and the two appeals that have been filed to the Florida Supreme Court.

Our 15 minute podcast can be found here.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Opposition Grows Against Bus Rapid Transit Project as Its Cost Increases to $44 million

Pinellas County Transit Agency PSTA seeks over $21 million from the Federal Transit Administration and additional funds from the Florida Department of Transportation for a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project. 

But opposition is growing against the BRT project. Two (S Pasadena and St Pete Beach) of the three municipalities along the BRT route formally oppose the project as opposition grows in the city of St. Petersburg.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Who's Paying All for Transportation's Legal Bills?

There are two appeals that have been made to the Florida Supreme Court related to the All for Transportation $16 Billion transit tax so who is paying for All for Transportation's mounting legal costs?