Tuesday, October 4, 2022

FACTS Expose the Deceptive Pro Rail Tax Disinformation Campaign

Guest post from Dr. Jim Davison who has been involved in the transportation issue in Hillsborough County for over 25 years

Voters in Hillsborough County have been getting mailers from All For Transportation (AFT) extolling their plan for transportation and what a $23 billion sales tax will do for you. 

AFT says their claims are based on the Hillsborough County Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) 4 year old 2045 20 year Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP). 

AFT uses their massive 30 year tax to fund an outdated 20 year TPO plan. That is certainly deceptive. But is using a 30 year tax to fund a 20 year plan also fraudulent? 

Let us look at AFT's claims and determine the facts. 

Claim: 700,000 people are moving to Hillsborough County

Fact: Yes, we all know Hillsborough County is great place to live, but what part of the county are they moving to? The vast majority of the increased population in Hillsborough County will be to the unincorporated areas, > 500,000 of the 700,000. Only about 100,00 to the city of Tampa.

Claim: We All benefit from the sales tax and the AFT plan

Fact: AFT states the tax is split 3 ways; 45% to Transit (HART), 54.5% for roads and 0.5% for planning. That statement is misleading. The Mobility Director for the city of Tampa presented the real split to the BOCC; 45% to HART, 39.9% to Hillsborough County, 12% to Tampa and 2.1% to Plant City & Temple Terrace. This is the actual way the revenues will be split and then the different governments will spend the money how they see fit. Hillsborough County with 70% of the present population and growing by over 500,000 more people will get only 40% of the sales tax. HART with less than 2% of commuters gets 45%. Greater than 50% of the sales tax will be spent within the City of Tampa. Some benefit more than others....like Animal Farm.

Claim: Less Traffic. You will be home in time for dinner.

Fact: The Transportation Planning Organization’s (TPO) own studies show a 4 to 5 minutes increase in the average commute and a 295% increase in vehicle hours of delay. You are going to be late with this Plan.

Claim: Safer Roads. A 35% decrease in crashes and fatalities.

Fact: The TPO’s own studies show that there is no difference in the number of crashes and deaths on Local Roads with or without the tax. Yes, the same amount. The TPO also used revenues not available for their use in safety study and did not include the increase in crashes and deaths that rail and rail stations will have on the road network. Deaths on our roads have gone up despite many cars off the road during the pandemic.

Claim: Citizen Oversight. Another Big Lie.

Fact: The AFT Plan calls for and Independent Oversight Committee to be formed and paid for only by the County. The make-up of the committee will include 3 members each appointed by HART, the County and City of Tampa (9 members). Hillsborough County with 70% of the population, Tampa with 27% of the population and HART, a transit agency with 2% ridership, have equal representation. Plant City and Temple Terrace have one member each. 
This is what AFT calls "fair" representation. 

It is not an "Independent" Oversight Committee because the same people who put the $23 Billion tax on the ballot are the same people who will be appointing their members to the committee.  

The only redeeming aspect of this Committee is that they have no power to do anything about how the tax funds are spent - only the county commissioners can make those decisions. The Committee is just another “advisory” bureaucracy taxpayers will be forced to pay for.

All For Transportation states their plan will fix our roads and sidewalks.

Truth lies in an April 19, 2022 memo that John Lyons, the Director of Public Works sent to the Hillsborough County commissioners. Lyons tells the commissioners that with the 30 year $23 Billion sales tax and the allocations per Ordinance 22-9 roads would only be resurfaced once every 30 years. 

The TPO states that with a schedule of repaving once every 28 years the county will have a $1 billion deficit in road maintenance in the next 20 years. 


This is just a sampling of the disinformation and outright lies All For Transportation and their rich financial backers are trying to sell the voters.

Do yourself, your neighbors and your Community a favor:

    Demand the Truth. 

    Demand a Reprioritization of Existing Record Revenues. 

    Demand the County FIX Our Roads First.

And Fight an inflationary Tax:  VOTE NO on the Sales Tax Hike in November!

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