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How Hillsborough commissioners want to spend funds from a now-voided transportation sales tax

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The Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners voted Wednesday to send the state legislature a specific list of projects it would like funded by the sales tax collected by the now-defunct 2018 Transportation Tax levy.

The 2018 transportation sales tax raised $570 million before the Florida Supreme Court declared it illegal. Commissioners want to address several road construction projects.

The Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners voted Wednesday to send the state legislature a specific list of projects it would like funded by the sales tax collected by the now-defunct 2018 Transportation Tax levy.

However, it's unclear if any of that money will actually be coming back to the county.

The "All for Transportation"sales tax levy was overturned by the Florida Supreme Court — but not before $570 million was raised.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said that money should be refunded to taxpayers and what's left should not go for transit.

Commissioner Michael Owen didn't want to cross DeSantis with a wish list of projects.

"To do that I think it's almost an act of defiance on behalf of Hillsborough County," Owen said.

But Commissioner Harry Cohen said the list being sent to the Tallahassee doesn't fund transit, just road construction.

"By not putting money into the HART maintenance facility, I believe we are complying with what the governor said in his statement which is he didn't want the money used for transit," said Cohen.

Commissioner Gwen Myers said it's the board's job to try and get road improvements. And, she argued that nobody knows yet how much of the money will actually get refunded.

"In order to get your sales tax back, you need to provide a receipt that shows you paid for something with sales tax," Myers said. " So, I think we're getting too far ahead of ourselves and should just deal with ... let's try to get some projects done that is much needed here in Hillsborough County."

Here's a breakdown, according to the county:

  • 19th Avenue: $100 million
  • Big Bend Road: $32 million
  • Lithia Pinecrest Road: $200 million
  • Progress Boulevard: $3 million
  • South 78th Street: $1 million
  • University Area: $25 million
  • Van Dyke Road: $35 million

The county is asking for $424 million for road repair, sidewalk construction, and congestion relief.

I started my journalism career delivering the Toledo Blade newspaper on my bike.