Feb 21, 2024 - News

Clock ticking for Hillsborough's $562M tax fund for transportation

Photo illustration of the Florida State Capitol building with lines radiating from it.

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The Legislature faces a three-week deadline to alleviate Hillsborough's transportation woes, but whether it'll do so (or how) is anyone's guess.

Why it matters: Lawmakers are sitting on a $562 million pot collected from Hillsborough's voided transportation sales tax while the county's roads remain run-down and its traffic congested.

Catch up fast: Hillsborough voters approved a charter amendment in 2018, creating a 1% "all-for-transportation" sales surtax.

  • It remained in effect for two years before the state Supreme Court struck it down for limiting how the County Commission could spend the revenue collected from the tax.
  • The ruling didn't address what to do with the funds the county had already collected. The money's been in limbo since, with the state House and state Senate so far unable to reach an agreement.

State of play: Gov. Ron DeSantis pitched moving the funds to the state Department of Transportation and tasking that agency to create a plan to use the money for the county's road projects.

  • Nobody's moved on that idea. The tax cut package and budget proposed by both chambers do not yet include a plan for distributing the funds, per Florida Politics.

What they're saying: "With a 30-year backlog of more than $13 billion in transportation projects, it is critical this funding be returned to the county to start work on them," Brian Adcock, chairman of the Tampa Bay Chamber and president of Adcock Financial Group, tells Axios.

  • "With thousands of people traversing through Hillsborough County each day from all over the region, the county's transportation challenges are a challenge for the entire Tampa Bay region."
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