Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sneaking in Les

Yesterday, July 31, the Hillsborough County Commissioners met for a BOCC Budget Reconciliation workshop, scheduled for 9am - 5pm. A long day was planned, and the agenda (PDF) was about finalizing the budget millage and corrections from the earlier draft.  The transcript and video (if you can get that crap Silverlight working !$%*&!) are here.  The Trib reported on the meeting as well.

There was an interesting non-budget item added to the Budget Reconciliation agenda, not on the original agenda, created by Commission Chair Mark Sharpe or County Administrator Mike Merrill, to fill an open seat on the HART Board. A BOCC citizen appointee to the HART Board, Anne Madden, resigned on June 16, and the Board needed to approve a new appointee.

At a Budget Reconciliation workshop?

(9) Each director shall hold office until his or her successor has been appointed and qualified. A vacancy occurring during a term shall be filled only for the balance of the unexpired term. The first directors shall be selected as provided above. An appointment to fill a vacancy shall be made within 20 days after the occurrence of the vacancy or before expiration of the term, whichever is applicable. If no appointment is made within the prescribed time by the appointing member, the board, by a majority vote, shall appoint an eligible person to the board with like effect as if the appointment were made by the member. However, if the board does not appoint an eligible person within 10 days, the appointment shall then be made by the Governor within 10 days thereafter. Any director shall be eligible for reappointment.
There have been 2 BOCC meetings since Maddens' resignation.

45 days is my count.  Reading through the statute above, can the Commission even make a legal appointment now?

Yet they waited for a Budget Reconciliation workshop to take up filling a HART Board vacancy?

They did not follow the law.

Rule 17. WORKSHOP MEETINGS. By supermajority vote, the Board may schedule a workshop meeting to discuss items of special importance or complexity to the Board. The purpose of a workshop meeting is to allow staff to make presentations and to allow questions by the Board. Generally, public comment will not be allowed during a BOCC Workshop Meeting. However, a citizen may provide written comments on a Workshop issue to the County Administrator at least a week in advance of the Workshop Meeting which will be provided to BOCC members as part of the Workshop Agenda Materials. Public comment may be allowed at the discretion of the presiding officer, but will be no more than three (3) minutes for each person unless the presiding officer wishes to extend the time limit. An agenda of the order of business at the workshop meeting shall be prepared by the County Administrator and made available to the public a reasonable time before the workshop meeting. Official action may be taken upon any of the items discussed at the workshop meeting and any of the items of official business that require immediate consideration and decision by the Board. [Emphasis mine]
The agenda for this Budget Reconciliation workshop was published, and did have an item to fill the HART vacancy, but it did NOT have an agenda item for public comment.

When they got to the agenda item to appoint a new HART Board member, Commissioner Mark Sharpe stated "So what we'll do is we'll go ahead and open for public comment.... Seeing no one, we'll close for public comment".  

No one was there.  Well, one dude talked about libraries.
No one was there since the BOCC did not properly notice for public comment, since public comment is normally not allowed at a workshop.  

Perhaps they did not want to hear from the public.

Commissioner Sandra Murman, who currently sits on the HART board, nominated Commissioner Les Miller to fill the vacancy. The nomination was seconded by Commissioner Beckner, who also currently sits on the HART board.

In an interesting move, Commissioner Victor ("I'm not Charlie") Crist "I wish to appoint Sharon Calvert, a constituent of mine who has expressed an interest of serving on the HART Board. I think her interest and working knowledge as her ability to participate would be an effective member of that board."

Sharon has not expressed interest in serving on the HART Board, and never applied.

Ken Roberts, a transportation knowledgeable constituent of Sandra Murman's, and from the same South Shore part of the county as Anne Madden, had applied for the position. (Disclosure, Ken is a friend).

There were no seconds. Commissioner Sharpe stated his support for Miller, how good the existing commissioners have served, rambled on about the magnitude of transformation upcoming before us, referenced a Booz Allen Hamilton study (PDF)  from the TED/PLG proposal.

Regarding that Booz Allen Hamilton 2011 study, it was actually a study paid for by the American Public Transit Association, the primary lobbyist for transit in DC, mostly paid by transit agencies, which are largely paid by our tax dollars, to lobby to get more of our tax dollars for more transit. The study had little to do with what is confronting Hillsborough County But we'll save that for another blog. These are writing themselves these days.

Les Miller was appointed on a 5-1 vote. Victor Crist voted against.

The meeting scheduled from 9am to 5pm was adjourned after about 40 minutes. 

What just happened?

For one, the BOCC did not follow the law in appointing for the vacancy within twenty days.  In fact, they let it lapse for 45 days.

Why the rush all of a sudden, when the BOCC needed to cram this appointment in a budget workshop after letting it lapse so long?

HART Board is meeting on August 4 on whether to approve the HART takeover plans as proposed by the TED/PLG.  The next BOCC meeting is not scheduled until August 6.

They wanted needed to appoint someone who will vote favorably for the HART takeover.  Les Miller's first vote as a HART board member will be to totally reorganize its mission and kick out most of the other citizen appointees.

They engineered it such a way to ensure there would be no publicity and no public comment on the matter.

They also engineered the HART Board that is now very Tampa centric.  There is now no representation on HART from south and east Hillsborough, the fastest growing parts of the county.

There will now be four County Commissioners on the HART Board -- Sharpe, Beckner, Murman, and now Miller.

They had difficulty following the law for an appointment, now they want to oversee Super-HART and a $15 billion transportation pipe dream.

Even the Trib is catching on with the headline this evening Hillsborough commissioners’s vision: a HART board that thinks like they do

Stacking the deck.

Against you.

They are only building distrust.

Confused Castor Emerges

We have kept asking where in the world is Rep. Kathy Castor on Obamacare? We finally found her on the commentary page of the Tampa Tribune today. She must have written from her deep dark bunker from which she rarely emerges from. Her column today is Kathy Castor: Keep eye out for insurance rebates, but beware new unregulated rates where she joyfully tells us:
In Florida, almost 1 million consumers are expected to receive $42 million in rebates — the most of any state.
Then Castor, knowing health insurance premiums are going up, tried to blame Governor Scott and the Republican legislature for the higher premiums in her editorial.
The governor and Legislature effectively washed their hands of protecting consumers against excessive rate hikes.  
Remember this when new insurance rates are announced soon.

Here, once again, the ideology and deliberate actions of the governor and Legislature are another roadblock for working families.
What about Castor's ideology and the deliberate actions by her and the rest of the Democrats in Congress?  She and her fellow Democrats rammed Obamacare through Congress on a totally partisan basis using a corrupt process of lies, back room bribes and special procedures. Floridians have always OPPOSED Obamacare. 

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor
U.S. Representative Kathy Castor
Now we have chaos as we predicted.  We told Castor that would happen with such bad policy attempting to take over 1/6 of our economy.  But she's out touting a few lucky folks who overpaid and will get a few bucks back.

Where has Castor been as we've witnessed the train wreck and chaos she helped create since she voted for Obamacare? 

Where was Castor last year when the lie of the year "you can keep your healthcare period" was exposed as hundreds of thousands of Floridians were kicked off their insurance plans?

Where was Castor as President Obama unilaterally and arbitrarily took away HER authority in Congress, overreached and decided to change and delay parts of the law he didn't like?

Where was Castor as Floridians lost their doctors, saw their premiums go up, their co-pays go up and their deductibles go up?

Where was Castor as employers dumped their healthcare coverage? 

Where was Castor as employers were afraid to hire due to the chaos and uncertainty created by Obamacare?

Where was Castor as employees hours were cut to part-time because Obamacare arbitrarily decided to redefine what full time employment means?

Where was Castor during the disastrous Obamacare rollout that's cost taxpayers a small fortune to even make workable?

Where was Castor as hackers have already hacked Obamacare and created fraud?

Where was Castor as Obamacare was rolled out without controls in place and the ability to verify those receiving subsidies actually should be receiving them?

Where was Castor as so many enrolling in Obamacare are ending up in a broken Medicaid system which is hammering state budgets while studies show Obamacare has NOT reduced trips to the emergency rooms?

Where was Castor as the "risk pools" are actually inverted so that who enrolled are older and sicker which will mean higher premiums in the exchanges?

Where was Castor who voted for a bill that specifically stated one can ONLY get a subsidy when enrolling in a State exchange which has now created more chaos?

Where was Castor as Obamacare was unconstitutionally forcing those with religious beliefs to go against those beliefs?

Where was Castor when many originally told her Obamacare was a tax and that has now been confirmed by the Supreme Court?

Where was Castor as Obamacare carve outs have been made for special exemptions and waivers for various groups?

Where was Castor when Obama unilaterally delayed the employer mandate when the law she voted on specifically stated a date the mandates must start?

Where was Castor as the employer mandate was delayed but the individual mandate was forced on us?

Where was Castor as seniors were kicked off of their Medicare Advantage plans?

Where was Castor as younger folks the risk pools were relying on did not sign up because they would rather pay the penalty that has little way of enforcement anyway?

Where has Castor been since her town hall meeting in 2009 where a packed room told her they did not want Obamacare?

Loss of ones job, loss of existing health insurance, loss of doctors, cut in working hours, higher premiums, co-pays and deductibles resulting from Obamacare - aren't they considered "roadblocks for working families"?

Where has Castor been as all the issues have been swirling around Obamacare? 

Missing in Action and given a free media pass.

But getting a small rebate and attempting to blame the Republican legislature for premium increases - now that's newsworthy and worthy for Castor to emerge from her bunker.

"Whole Lotta Love" for the Super HART Plan?

Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill hastily called a media briefing Tuesday, July 29.  Why has the media not questioned why Merrill was presenting a transportation plan to them prior to presenting it to the Transportation Policy Leadership Group on August 12th? Why was Merrill's media briefing closed to the public? So real and challenging questions could not be asked?
County Administrator Mike Merrill
What we found out:  someone from County Center leaked plan information to an advocacy group who was going to publicize the information. Merrill decided to intervene but apparently he did this without even telling the county commissioners. Doesn't Merrill work for them?

This is the second time we know of, where someone in County Center has leaked information prior to it being presented to the Transportation Policy Leadership Group, to an advocacy group who uses their  "friendly" media to advance their agenda.

Who the leaker is remains unknown, but we do wonder whether this type of behavior instills trust with voters and taxpayers. The media knew the plan before our county commissioners.   Guess the elected officials can say what Obama often does, that they found out about the plan like you did - they read it in the news. 

Back to the plan, the Tribune yesterday, July 30, had a front page article titled Leaders unveil details of Hillsborough transportation tax plan from Merrill's media briefing.  As usual, Tribune titles are disingenuous as we must note that NO Leader or elected official has approved this plan because it has not even been publicly presented to them. 

We looked at the plans on the BOCC website under the section Manager Meeting and Media Briefing, July 29 yesterday, did the math and posted here that the huge 30 year $6.1 Billion sales tax increase will only fund half or less of this $15 Billion "I have a dream" plan. Where's the rest coming from?

What's wrong with this "something for everyone to vote for" plan?
According to Creative Loafing article July 29th"
"It really is the nature of this not to be fully cooked. It really is focused more on getting input from the community on, do they like this project?" Merill asked, adding that he expects they will, since many of the projects in the plan have been on the proverbial shelf for awhile. "We're really at a stage where we just need to get feedback from the public before we can hone in on a total number and begin refining some of the revenue projections."
But wait. We have tons of road projects already approved that have been sitting on the shelf for years due to no funding. Aren't those a no-brainer? More feedback is needed? Didn't we give them some feedback on priorities in 2010? What have they been working on since then? This TED/PLG group certainly could have taken some time over the last year to prioritize and whittle down their wish list rather than all things for everyone. They are the self appointed leaders to take over HART and "take responsibility" for this thing. How about they take responsibility of their plan now? It's not a plan to have twice as many projects as money to pay for it, and then expect the Feds or the state to cover. That's a pipe dream.

My experience in the private sector, having worked on multi-million dollar projects and programs, if I came up with a plan that costs twice as much as the budget, I'd be fired. In government planning, we get feel good videos with no regard for the cost of anything, that set expectations so high beyond reality for a plan who's budget will never cover its cost.  Will we see a taxpayer funded marketing campaign of targeted groups like Greenlight Pinellas did last year descend on us?

If there is so much confidence in this plan, why would our county commissioners consider putting a massive sales tax increase referendum in a low turnout, off-cycle election? The Tribune reported "a vote that could come as early as March 2016" (emphasis mine) instead of the normal November 2016 Presidential election with a much higher turnout.  Previous commissioners put the 1/2 cent Community Investment Tax on an off-cycle, low turnout September ballot targeting specific voters and it passed. But this is a 30 year tax so why else would they have to rush it through six months prior to a normal election? Especially when told off cycle elections cost taxpayers millions.

Wouldn't that be bizarre? Our county commissioners can't find road money in the $3.9 Billion budget but could find millions for a low turnout, off cycle election? 

We already have experienced a 30 year "something promised to everyone" Community Investment Tax debacle.  Unfortunately, it over promised and under delivered because a previous county commission decided to spend it all 11 years into its 30 year life. Comprehensive plans like CIT always cost more and deliver less.  Instead of a comprehensive single massive plan with a single massive 30 year tax hike, the elected officials should allow the voters to decide where they want their money spent.  Put single issue referendums on the ballot. 

If the elected officials won't prioritize or make the hard decisions, then the voters should be able to at the ballot box. 

This plan also includes a hostile takeover of the HART board, our local transit agency, by the Transportation Policy Leadership Group.  The Transportation Policy Leadership Group, all elected officials, will appoint themselves to the HART board to manage this $12-15 BILLION bucket of tax dollars.  And we're told it's for accountability reasons. Well we have already experienced how accountable our elected officials were with our CIT tax. This plan is CIT on steroids. The restructure is not for accountability reasons. It's because HART has access to and is the recipient of federal transit funds. Mayor Buckhorn stated just that at the PLG meeting when this idea was presented. It's all about going after federal dollars as if they expect the spigot to keep flowing as we approach $18 Trillion of debt.  

The plan not only restructures HART but also expand its current transit mission to include non-transit: roads, sidewalks, bike paths, complete streets, landscaping and transit-oriented development to get you out of your car.  The reality is HART has no experience or qualifications for managing roads, economic development, complete streets, sidewalks, bike paths and trails. They manage our bus service/transit.  Ask an engineer -  road engineering is totally different than transit engineering. The only road work HART currently is authorized to do is for right-of-ways for their transit projects.

Is this plan even legal?  Would it take another referendum or legislative action to expand HART's authority? We anticipate legal wrangling - cha ching.

The Tampa Bay Times article July 30 also disingenuously titled Hillsborough officials: Put 1-cent transportation tax to vote in 2016 since no official has approved or voted to do anything states:
If the referendum passes, HART's budget would go from the current $86 million to $5 billion.
"If we're going to be serious and move forward with a transit plan,'' interim HART chief operating officer Katharine Egan said at the briefing, "we need a little more love." (emphasis mine)
Where are the people who will be supporting this $5 Billion HART plan? This is creating a brand new bureaucracy - Super HART.  No existing, overlapping, duplicative and wasteful bureaucracy is being eliminated with this plan. Apparently, no process work has been done to actually streamline anything. So how is this really going to work? Clumsily?

Out of the $12-15 Billion plan, $4.3 Billion is for non-transit projects. Out of that $4.3 Billion,  $680 million is for sidewalks, bike paths, trails - projects that do nothing to reduce road congestion. Road improvements including roadways, intersections and technology like traffic management systems, bridges, repaving, landscaping and complete streets is $3.5 Billion. It appears that some of that is dedicated BRT lanes which should instead be highly utilized bus/managed toll lanes where tolls can go back into maintaining the roads.

The rest of the $12-15 Billion plan is for all kinds of transit, from buses to BRT to rail.
That's $3-5.7 Billion for transit capital.  Assuming a full build out, the operational costs for the transit projects over 30 years is almost $4.5 Billion, approximately $150 million a year.   Nowhere specified in this plan are the transit replacement capital costs which will have to occur after 20-30 years. That is another several Billion dollars which means this tax never goes away and it will have to be extended into perpetuity. Will anyone honestly state that?

Merrill stated at the June HART board Strategy meeting when he presented that the plan would be split 50/50 between roads and transit. What happened since then? That's not this plan which looks more like 25-30% roads, 70-75% transit.  And remember we are already spending 10-15 times on transit today than we are on roads.  

What's missing from this plan er pipe dream, along with some sense of reality?
Considerations for what is occurring in the private sector with autonomous vehicles, ride-sharing, car sharing, telecommuting and drones for delivery.  Considerations to reduce regulations and reform community plans. 

But with a budget increase of $4.9 Billion, an over 5,000% increase  - Super HART's certainly getting more than a little love, they are getting a "whole lotta love"!


A majority of people when they hear the facts about GreenLight decide that it is a bad deal for Pinellas County and indicate they will vote NO.

The problem is the only serious effort to get the facts out is taking place right here where you're reading... Social Media.

Big news organizations are reluctant to go against powerful advertisers like the Board of Realtors, and the Chamber of Commerce with all their members.. Big media needs the ad revenue.

Quite frankly No Tax for Tracks is out gunned in the money department by several fold.

The Polls consistently tell the story. As pollsters ask more detailed questions about the sales tax increase, reluctance turns in to opposition.

So here is what you can do.

Up there in the picture are three icons that are the key to getting the word out.

Somewhere on every Blog page and on-line newspaper article  are a series of boxes with those ICONs. If you click the one that looks like an envelope you can mail the post your reading to up to five e-mail addresses. So every time you see something about the sales tax that you think is good information, click the e-mail envelope and send it to 5 friends.

You can click the envelope and send to as many groups of 5 as you want.

While you're at it, ask your e-mail contacts to forward the post to five of their friends. That will spread the word.

Use Facebook and Twitter to like Posts you think are relevant and let your friends see them.

Give it a try.

Check out my video Post GreenLight - It's a Bad Law . If you agree with my thinking, e-mail the post to everyone in your contact list and ask them to do the same.

Help save this county from the biggest tax grab boondoggle in Pinellas County History.

E-mail Doc at: Or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook and Twitter.
Disclosures: Contributor to
No Tax for Tracks.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

It's 2010 All Over Again

In short notice, the Hillsborough Transportation Economic Development (TED) also known as the Policy Leadership Group (PLG) released their plans today at County Center. The several billion dollar plan, such as it is, is posted here.

It seemed to be of a rush, since everyone was expecting some grand fanfare on the announcement on the TED/PLG workings over the past year or so. So much for anticipation. County Administrator Mike Merrill,  invited the media to brief them on the plan. Apparently, he publicized the plan before it was scheduled to be presented to the TED/PLG at the August 12 meeting.

Were they ready? It seemed a bit contrived and rushed to release this much awaited plan in a conference room.  Especially since our very recent conversations at County Center with those who would know confirmed the plan would be released on August 12.  Or perhaps a transit advocacy group was leaked the plans and made a public records request, forcing the TED/PLG to release the plan prematurely?

Of the media that covered the unveiling, Mitch Perry at Creative Loafing had the most detail as of this writing.  He wrote
If the referendum were to pass, it would raise $6.1 billion over 30 years time, or "less than 50 cents a day," says the narrator in a short video produced by county staff that will be distributed to the public. (A second, lengthier video was also presented.) County Administrator Mike Merrill emphasized that the extensive list of transit and non-transit needs are proposals and not the final end product. That will come after the draft plan is circulated throughout the community later this year.

When asked if there was a grand financial total for all of the projects listed in the plan, Hillsborough County Chief Development & Infrastructure Services Administrator Lucia Garsys said the total for non-transit projects would be at $4.3 billion. She said she could not be so specific about the transit projects, instead giving an estimate of somewhere between $3.1 and $5.7 billion, not counting receiving grants or funding from other sources.

Merrill acknowledged that those combined totals exceed the $6.1 billion that the penny sales tax would generate, which is why the County would hope to receive additional funds from revenues generated by the projects or grants.
Let's be clear, this is still in the draft, feel good, "I have a dream" stage, that includes some planning cost estimates.  The planners will be seeking public input for refinements, prioritization, fiscal sanity... and hopefully realism.

We did the math, and confirmed the $4.3 billion for non-transit (that includes roads, sidewalks, bike trails, complete streets, street reconfiguration, etc.), as well as the $3.1 and $5.7 billion numbers above.

Missing in the media coverage was the estimated (recurring) operational costs, which average around $150 million per year.

Over a 30 year period, this adds up to $11.7 to $14.7 billion for capital and operational expenses.

We can pay for it!
The TED/PLG is proposing to pay for this with a 14% sales tax increase in Hillsborough County. Echoes of 2010.  This is estimated to raise about $6.1 billion over 30 years.  This is expected to be a ballot referendum in 2016.

If we're lucky, the $6.1 billion covers half the proposed the costs over 30 years.  This results in what is known in mixed audiences as a "shortfall". Otherwise known as "Oh crap!"

Who covers the shortfall?  The TED proposal will be looking for the Feds and State government to cover.  As we've written, good luck with that.

Regarding the plan, its hedging their bets, proposes something for everyone, all about "choice", with all transportation modes except jetpacks and flying cars covered.  Something for everyone to vote for!

The plan includes the proposal to take over HART and position them as the central planner for transportation in Hillsborough, growing HART's budget form $86 million to about $5 billion.  All managed by elected officials on the reconstituted HART Board.

Katharine Eagan, HART Interim CEO, was quoted by the Times
"If we're going to be serious and move forward with a transit plan,'' interim HART chief operating officer Katharine Egan said at the briefing, "we need a little more love."
Compared to $86 million, $5 billion is a lot to love.

The plan avoids making hard decisions. Yet stereotypical of the modern central planner, the plan has recurring themes around Transit Oriented Development (more retail and restaurants... as if we don't have enough?!) to bicycle commuting, to complete streets, nature trails, urban trails, to walkable communities.

According to Hillsborough County Commissioner Mark Sharpe, "It's as close to perfect as you can get."

What's missing?

Ridership estimates.  Where the 600,000 people expected to move to Hillsborough by 2040 expected to live.  New residents mode preferred mode of transportation. Autonomous vehicles. Horse and buggy. Ride share. Deregulation. Private services. Simplifying the oversight from the dozen or so agencies that get to weigh in on transportation projects in Hillsborough. Camels. Replacement costs.

The 1/2 cent Community Investment Tax is briefly mentioned... that they spent it all, while we are still paying until 2026 yet receiving little benefit.

We are now expected to trust them with a 1 cent sales tax over 30 year to  raise $6.1 billion after they blew out the CIT? The 1 cent sales tax increase that will cover maybe 1/2 of their plan?  They'll politely ask the Feds and our state government to cover the shortfall? Please, may I? Really?

It's 2010 all over again.

While the plan mentions rails solutions as part of improving transit, it does not commit to them.  That's a bit of the glass half full or empty.  The better plan to improve transit would be to utilize lower cost, more flexible bus solutions, and if, and only if, there are dramatic increase in transit utilization, should we consider rail in the future.

For example, the FDOT plans I-275 Express lanes between the Howard Frankland Bridge and downtown Tampa. The TED plan expects enough room to add premium transit, either a light rail or a BRT.  Those lanes will also connect to the Howard Frankland Bridge.  If we want reliable transit connecting across the bay, only bus with managed tool lanes spanning the HFB and the I-275 Express should be considered.  The managed toll lanes shared with vehicles can serve as a hurricane evacuation route for Pinellas, as rail will shut down with moderate winds, and BRT from Pinellas can connect directly to downtown Tampa without any transfer to a rail at the planned Westshore Regional Multi-Modal Center.

Yet they had difficulty committing to common sense.

2010 Light Rail Tax vote in Hillsborough
It's 2010 all over again.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Fun with numbers!

Here's a quick little fun with numbers from HART's 2015 budget plans compared to Hillsborough County 2015 budget plans.  While the final budgets may yet change, this fun with numbers will help illustrate Hillsborough County's priorities.

4th Grade Math tools
Hillsborough's current 2014 - 2015 budget plan is at  Page 415 states:
The Transportation Program Adopted Capital Budget for FY 14 is $19.1 million and the planned FY 15 Budget is $6.5 million. states on page 26 that the Transportation Program "has no new projects in 2015."

City of Tampa's 2015 budget plan at  includes about $12.5 million for capital in the Right of Way operations department (pg 199), where they enjoy a $4 million increase for road re-paving in 2015.  It's not clear where the rest of that budget is spent.  There is also another $15 million in capital in the Transportation Department (pg 209), but it does not mention any road projects. An exercise left to the reader is to figure out the real spending plans in these budgets documents.

HART's 2015 budget will get about $31M from Hillsborough County Ad Valorem taxes paid for by all Hillsborough County property owners, including those in Tampa.

Hillsborough County 2015 budget for roads will be about $6.5M, mostly paid from gas taxes. Total Hillsborough County budget for 2015 is about $3.9B.

HART is used by < 2% of the population... lets be generous and use 2% for this exercise.

Roads are used by nearly 100% of the population... the taxpayers, and everyone is dependent on roads even if they are not a driver....even if they are a HART rider.  We will assume that roads are used by 98% of the population of Hillsborough County.

Currently there are about 1.29 million people in Hillsborough County.

Time for some 4th grade math!

people in Hillsborough – 2014
HART riders as a percent of population
road dependent people as a percent of population
HART 2015 Ad Valorem Taxes
Hillsborough County 2015 Road budget – gas taxes
City of Tampa 2015 Road budget

The above numbers results in 

# of HART Riders
# road riders and road dependents
Tax $ per HART Rider - County+Tampa
Tax $ per Road Rider – County
Tax $ per Road Rider – County+Tampa
Percent of Roads vs. HART tax budget – County
Percent of Roads vs. HART tax budget – County+Tampa
Percent of $ per rider spend Road vs. HART rider – County
Percent of $ per rider spend Road vs. HART rider – County+Tampa
Hillsborough tax $ to fund roads at same level as HART

The above numbers are annual based on the planned 2015 budgets for HART, Hillsborough County and City of Tampa.

For 2015, Hillsborough County's current plan funds roads at 20% of the real dollars compared to HART's funding.  On a per rider basis, HART is funded by the county taxpayers at $1233 per rider, and road riders are funded at $5.14 per rider. 

If the county funds 1,265,746 road riders at $1233 per rider, same as HART riders, 
the county would spend $1.56 BILLION in 2015 alone.

Some may state Hillsborough benefits from roads paid for by FDOT and the Feds. HART also receives money from the Feds, fares and advertising.  However, this is a budget and tax comparison of Hillsborough and HART only. This will be close to what any new transportation/transit referendum budget will be based on. It will be extracting funds solely from the taxpayers of Hillsborough to pay for roads and transit at some ratio. This IS a valid comparison.

Additionally, municipalities in the county are responsible for their own roads and funding. However, Temple Terrace and Plant City are not even rounding errors, and City of Tampa is not spending $1.5B to bring parity into the equation.  

If we did include City of Tampa, that adds another whopping $12.25 million in to the road spending, or about $14.81 per road rider, still minuscule compared to the $1233 in taxes spent on each HART rider every year.

Now we'll sharpen our pencils for 2040, when another 600,000 people are expected to move into Hillsborough County.

Net population growth
Forecasted 2040 population in Hillsborough
HART riders as a percent of population
(assume HART triples ridership percentage in the county)
Number of HART riders 2040
Number of ROAD riders 2040
Number of net new ROAD Riders 2015 – 2040

Assuming HART triples transit ridership as a percentage of total population in next 25 years, which NO transit agency has achieved in the last 25 years, HART will grow from 25K to 113K riders. That will result in an increase of 512K more road riders on Hillsborough County roads in 2040 than today.

Does anyone really think we can pay for another 512,000 road riders with $5.12, or even $14.81 per rider per year in taxes spent on our roads?

This elementary math exercise shows that Hillsborough County is not serious about roads.

We need our roads fixed!