The Hillsborough County Board of Commissioners said that despite a county court’s ruling earlier this month, residents can vote on a transport tax which appears on the ballot prior to November 8.
The county appealed the court’s decision against the wording of the ballot, which means that for now, voters are still allowed to vote on the tax until the appeal is heard by the Court. appeal of the second district.
The county is asking voters if they approve of a 1% sales tax over the next 30 years to help fund transit and road improvements, which leaders say are much needed in the county. But a lawsuit is meant to stop the vote in its tracks.
In August, the lawsuit against the county was filed by Karen Jaroch, Gulf States regional director of Heritage Action for America, a group of conservative activists. In his injunctive suit, Jaroch specified the language of the ballot presented by the county. Earlier this month, Judge Anne-Leigh Gaylord Moe sided with Jaroch, say that the wording of the ballot misleads the public.
But today the commission announced a stay of the court’s decision in light of Hillsborough County’s appeal, adding that voters will be allowed to vote on the referendum before and on November 8.
“It’s critical that voters know they can still vote on this important issue,” County Commissioner Kimberly Overman told Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, “Without this tax, potholes and roads won’t be not repaired, our bus service will be affected and the residents will be the ones who have to manage everything.”
Overman said a “small group of people,” including Jaroch, don’t want citizens to be able to vote on the tax, but the effects will be felt throughout the county if there isn’t enough funding for roads and transport. She said the county has begun the process to appeal the judge At Gaylord Moe’s decision the day after the October 11 incident.
In his lawsuit, Jaroch wrote that “the title and summary of the county ballot are apparently defective.”
Jaroch claimed the ballot misled voters into voting for the surtax by promising residents of certain areas of Hillsborough County that they would benefit from specific transportation improvements. She said that was misleading because these are “promises the county cannot expect to keep.”
Jaroch also claims the ballot does not provide voters with a specific, narrow question to vote on, which she says could violate state law.
The actual language of the 2022 ballot developed by the county says:
“Should transportation improvements be funded throughout Hillsborough County, including Tampa, Plant City, Temple Terrace, Brandon, Riverview, Carrollwood and Town ‘n’ Country, including projects that: build and widen roads, repairing roads and bridges, expanding transit options, Fixing potholes, Improving bus services, Improving intersections, Making walking and cycling safer, Levying a sales surcharge 1% for 30 years and funds deposited in an audited trust fund under citizen oversight.
County commissioners and pro-transit group All For Transportation (AFT) disagree with Jaroch’s views on ballot language.“It’s a frivolous ploy to deny voters the opportunity to resolve Hillsborough County’s transportation crisis,” AFT Co-Chair Tyler Hudson told CL in August. “A small group of stonewallers have already set back roads, safety and transit projects by 4 years with catastrophic consequences for the community. Lawsuits don’t fill the potholes, and voters deserve to have the opportunity to decide their future in terms of transport to the polls.