Hillsborough commissioners closer to adding penny transportation tax back to ballot

With all seven in agreement, Hillsborough County commissioners voted Wednesday morning on how to start the process of putting a new penny sales tax for transportation on the ballot in November 2022.

"As we all know, the public is waiting for us to make a decision regarding the transportation surtax," said Commissioner Gwen Myer.

The referendum would replace the "all for transportation" tax that was struck down by the state Supreme Court back in February.

Commissioner Mariella Smith acknowledged it's a big undertaking, but one that needs to involve the citizens. "In order to get their input, buy-in, and support. Otherwise, it will be for naught."

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They agreed to hold four town halls in each of the four commission districts in the fall, starting in August. The commissioners will present ideas and discuss the public's reactions.

"We can have as many meetings as you guys want – as much public input as you can find the time for," said Harry Cohen.

"If it could be phrased as a listening tour where we’re not going to really take any action, but collecting public input throughout the county," said Smith.

Stacy White says it’s obvious the votes are there to put the referendum on the November 2022 ballot.

More than half a billion dollars was already collected from the penny tax that went into effect more than a year ago.

As for what will happen with those funds? That will play out in a legal process of its own. The county will not play a role in that.