TAMPA, Fla. — Despite approval by the voters of Hillsborough County, the transportation sales tax is being contested.
- Commissioner Stacy White files lawsuit against County, transportation sales tax referendum
- White says referendum was written in a way that misled voters
- Election results
The 1 percent sales tax hike was approved in November by 57 percent of the voters. The 30-year, $15-billion transportation tax will be used on 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.
At least 54 percent of the funds are targeted for existing infrastructure with 46 percent toward new infrastructure.
However, Commissioner Stacy White is not on board.
White says the referendum was misleading and even may break Florida law.
White, who represents the eastern and southern parts of Hillsborough County, said the referendum was written in a way that misled voters - making them think tax revenue would be spent on priority road work when in fact the referendum prohibits it.
In fact, White has filed a lawsuit to invalidate the passed amendment.
White also said a citizen's committee with the power to allocate tax-generated funds is illegal because that responsibility is solely up to elected leaders.
Specifically, White is questioning the new citizens committee that would oversee how the tax funds are spent.
Now, Commissioner White is getting blowback from groups and leaders that supported the referendum.
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, a staunch supported of the referendum, said the entire lawsuit is a waste of time.
"This is ridiculous," the mayor tweeted on Tuesday. "This is the same Commissioner that refused to even allow the voters to have the opportunity to choose for themselves......until they actually chose for themselves to tackle our transportation issues. Maybe Manatee will annex his ‘hood."
Commission Chair Les Miller also was upset.
Miller said he has never been sued by a colleague on the commission and that any court battle over the passed amendment will be a waste of tax payer money.