Having lost the great rail tax referendum in 2010, now "some government leaders" in Hillsborough are trying again.
Three years after Hillsborough County voters soundly rejected a one-penny sales tax increase to fund transportation projects, some government leaders are talking about holding a similar referendum next spring.I guess we can't handle too much information? Last I checked Hillsborough County residents can't vote in Pinellas.
Though details are still sketchy, proponents say the referendum could be held in March to coincide with the Tampa mayoral election. They don’t want to hold the referendum this November because a similar transportation tax is on the ballot in Pinellas County that month and officials here want to see how that vote goes.
Who are "some government leaders"?
“We’re going to have some finality to all these conversations this year,” said Commissioner Mark Sharpe, who supported the 2010 referendum. “What would likely then occur is we will be talking about funding options and then you will likely see (a referendum) in 2015.”
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said he supports holding the referendum in March. By that time the county and city transportation planners will have identified the projects, including a potential rail route, giving the policy group time to vote on the list as well as a funding source, he said.The usual rail cheerleaders, Mark Sharpe, and Bob Buckhorn, leading us into the next rail disaster.
“We know where the potholes are, we know where the roads need to be expanded, so that part is there,” Buckhorn said. “It’s a matter of accumulating all that data, figuring out the rail side of it, and what the technology is.”
|Light rail crash of the day.. coming to Hillsborough?
So they'll take four months after the Pinellas election and figure our transportation plans -- roads, buses, rail, bikes, pedestrian -- for the March 2015 ballot.... that will ostensibly plan for the next 25 - 50 years? Buckhorn as already assumed we need to "figure out the rail side of it". Has he not learned from the failures the last time around that if they really want to "figure out the rail side of it" it is to save the citizens money and not do it?
Other commissioners said a March referendum would not give the policy group time to digest the large package of transportation projects still being developed and then sell the improvements - and a tax increase - to county residents.Not that the Eye believes in this type of planning.... but our planners do.
“We just want to make sure we have all the information back: the citizen feedback, the funding sources, the economic development areas,” Republican Sandy Murman said. “I just think there’s a whole lot that needs to be coordinated and put together before we even talk about a referendum.”
What's missing in the article?
The names of the people behind this effort. Who are they? Are they our local politicians? We have some "sketchy" comments from the Mayor and some county commissioners, but who's really proposing this?
Commissioner Les Miller, a Democrat, recalled that the 2010 referendum passed inside the Tampa city limits but was overwhelmingly defeated in the more populous unincorporated areas of the county. Miller said he thinks the reason the referendum lacked support in the suburbs was because those residents did not feel they would benefit from the proposed transportation projects, including a costly light-rail system from downtown Tampa to the University of South Florida. [emphasis mine]The facts are that the 2010 referendum passed in city of Tampa, but was overwhelmingly defeated by Hillsborough County voters. There was no costly rail "planned" other than a USF to downtown to airport route. Since the defeat, HART, under new pragmatic leadership, deployed the new MetroRapid route in less than a year, for 1/60 (!) of the cost of the planned costly USF - downtown light rail route. Other plans such as the Hillsborough MPO 2035 Long Range Transportation Plan did not show rail deployed to Brandon, perhaps the worse transportation issues in the county, until 2035!
“We did not filter out all the details and all the facts about how the people of unincorporated Hillsborough County would benefit from the tax,” said Miller. “That was a major factor in the defeat.”
Light rail is the most highly subsidized mode of transportation.
|Transportation costs and subsidies
Now they want to stage yet another referendum coincident with the Tampa Mayor's election, which of course will bring out Tampa voters, but there will be very little if anything else of interest for Hillsborough County voters.
Which Hillsborough County Commissioners are going to support a Hillsborough County referendum for a city of Tampa election?
If they can't win by being informative, transparent and making their case to ALL the voters, then schedule the election so they minimize the exposure and squeeze it in by rigging elections.
It's also convenient this article is published on the same day that Connect Tampa Bay, a local transportation activist group, is re-emerging with their 2014 kickoff meeting tonight.
We've always known these rail proponents would try again. It's a common pattern, as most votes on the rail led comprehensive transportation referendums in most municipalities are voted down the first attempt. The proponents spin it up again and again, until they wear us down.
Here we go again.