Transportation Referendum

Hillsborough County voters are once again being asked to decide on a tax referendum for transportation.

The Hillsborough County Transportation Referendum calls for a 1-cent sales tax for 30 years. It is estimated the increase would generate $300 million a year and about $9 billion over the course of the 30 years.

Of those funds, a little more than half would be slated for transportation improvements across the county, from Tampa to Temple Terrace to Plant City. That includes revamped roads, repaired bridges, new sidewalks, and enhancements for pedestrian and bicycle safety in county neighborhoods like Town 'N Country, Brandon, USF, West Shore, and downtown Tampa.

About 45 percent of the generated funds would go to Hillsborough Area Regional Transit and mass transit improvements, including expanded bus routes, express routes, trolley services, and exploring future rail routes.

But critics say bus ridership is down countywide, and the likelihood exists that much of the funds would be missued despite plan approval calling for an independent committee to certify how the funds are spent.

School Referendum

Voters also will get a chance to weigh in on a school referendum calling for a half-cent increase to the 7 percent sales tax.

The referendum would bump the tax to 7.5 percent, raising an estimated $138 million in one year.

The funds would go mainly to repairing and installing air conditioning in schools across the county.

AC woes in school buildings locally has been well documented in recent years, with some temps spiking past 80 degrees in classrooms.

The raised funds also would go toward construction of new schools, repairs to current school buildings and roofs, and other enhancements like school playgrounds, security, and maintenance.

With approval, an oversight committee would be created to monitor how the funds are spent.