On Tampa Bay
Posted by: Sharon Calvert
Guest Contributor: Dr. Jim Davison
No wonder there's a bad case of Distrust with County Center in Hillsborough.
The effort by the Hillsborough County BOCC and County Administrator to place a second sales tax for transit on the ballot has already begun. Even before returning the $532 million illegally taken in their last attempt, they are planning to place essentially the same $16 billion-dollar 30-year rail tax on the ballot. They plan on using the same lies and pronouncements used in 2018 to get you to give them the money.
One of the biggest lies, which is new this year, is that if you don’t pass the
sales tax the roads and sidewalks in the county will turn to dust. If you do
not give them $700 million dollars over the next 10 years 20% of the roads in
the county will be impassable, traffic lights will stop functioning, children
will be walking in traffic without sidewalks and bridges will collapse. All
within the next 10 years. This is basically what was told to the BOCC by the
County Administration just 2 months ago at a transportation workshop.
How did we get to this point, why is this happening now and who is to blame?
In 2009 the PCI for the county was 78.4, well into the “Satisfactory” level and close to the highest rating which is good. What happened over the next 13 years? The graft below shows the declining road quality to a level below 62 in 2019. In the last 2 years the Transportation department won’t publish the actual PCI network number. They only state the PCI is greater than 56 which is still in the “fair” category and within county policy.
|Pavement Condition Index|
In 2009 and up until 2014 the road network in Hillsborough County was in a “satisfactory” state of repair. Then in 2015 the bottom fell out, but there was no panic on the part of the BOCC or the Administration. In 2014 the BOCC established a new program in the Transportation department whose sole responsibility was to support a new sales tax referendum called GO Hillsborough.
Thankfully the proposed Go Hillsborough transit sales tax never made the ballot in 2016. With the County admitting they could fund road maintenance for the next 20 years and county revenue's growing at a rapid rate, the County was under pressure to start properly funding County roads again.
In 2018 All For Transportation railroaded through a new $16 billion dollar sales tax of which about 11% was dictated to go for maintenance and but nothing dictated for the funding of new roads. Despite increasing revenues above expectations, the new Democrat majority BOCC waived the board’s 10 year Transportation Policy in 2019. They waived it again in 2020. When they had the super majority needed to do it, the Tampa-Centric Five Democrat majority totally eliminated the funded 10 year Transportation plan.
In 2019 before the $832 Million transportation funding policy was waived, the County Public Works stated they needed $35 million a year for maintenance. The County at that time was spending $24.5 million a year on maintenance thanks to the BOCC 10 year Transportation Funding Plan. The $35 million number was repeated this past January 2021 to the BOCC by the County Administration but no doomsday scenario was given.
In the space of 6 years the County Administrator has gone from needing $25 million a year for road maintenance and requiring no sales tax money to $70 million dollars a year and millions of dollars in sales tax money.
If this were not so serious it would be laughable. The decline in road quality in Hillsborough County is not just something to watch. It is not just a number on a report. As the road quality declined the cost of driving a car went up. Tires wore out faster, fuel efficiency decreased, car repair costs and breakdowns increased. It is partially responsible for increase commute times and increase crashes. It did not have to occur.
Why do you think there has never been a referendum solely on rail or transit?
This post is contributed by EYE ON TAMPA BAY. The views expressed in this post are the blog author and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher of Bay Post Internet.
Cross Posted with permission from: Eye On Tampa Bay