Friday, May 20, 2016

Hillsborough County 15 year sales tax a bad idea

Hillsborough County's record of accomplishment at managing and planning big projects and the associated funding are sketchy at best.

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin

Amid a chorus of negatives, the backers of the Hillsborough County sales tax for transportation have once again managed to get the idea of a sales tax referendum on the County Commission agenda.

In a desperation move to get some tax money flowing for those who depend on it for their livelihood the Hillsborough County Commission will consider a half-cent sales tax for 15 years. One commissioner has even asked County staff to prepare information on five and ten-year concepts.

This idea is so bad and so stupid it is difficult to know where to start.

Get some detail from Tampa Bay Times Staff writer Steve Contorno: Voting for transportation referendum is voting for a tax hike, Hillsborough commissioner warns

To begin with, Mayor Buckhorn was against the 15-year option at the last session when the tax was voted down. His main reason is with the period of the tax less than 30 years it makes using the tax revenue for bonding (borrowing more money) all but impossible.

But let's be a bit more practical.

Setting up a short-duration tax that flows into an undefined series of potential projects is a consultant's absolute dream. The likes of Parsons Brinkerhoff, Beth Laythem and host of other local and national law firms, consultants and planners must be salivating at the very thought of this thing getting to the ballot.

Hillsborough County's record of accomplishment at managing and planning big projects and the associated funding are sketchy at best.

For example, from Eye On Tampa Bay by Sharon Calvert: Go Hillsborough's Private Campaign Collusion Behind the Green Curtain

County Commissioners desperate to hang something positive on their political resumes regarding transportation would be well advised to run from this like they would run from a burning building.

Nothing could be worse for the fate of public transportation, than a poorly planned half-baked tax initiative that will become a poster child for every form of poor planning and graft and corruption one could imagine.

There is no way to sell a boondoggle like this to the voters. All the politicians are saying are we can't say NO to the special interests who want their fingers in a new transportation tax.

Should the Hillsborough County Commission decide to lateral the ball and place this referendum on the Ballot every voter in Hillsborough County should go to the poles and vote NO.

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