Pennies is a small price to pay

Magdalynn Pollitt, Staff

At the very bottom of the Hillsborough County ballot, two referenda were located. They could have been easily missed, but thanks to tireless campaigning by the organizations behind the referenda, both passed with flying colors.

260,000 voters said “Yes” to transportation on Nov. 6. Transportation has long been a problem for Hillsborough County, and Referendum No. 2 promises to fix that by raising sales taxes an extra one percent for the next 30 years. The city plans to use 54 percent of that money to improve roads, highways, and bridges. There are many old, broken down roads in Tampa that have long been in need of repair. The city’s highways are infamous for their traffic, and improvements will help with rush-hour congestion. Some of the money will also go towards safety improvements for bikers and pedestrians.

An additional 45 percent of the money will go to the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART). This money will fix and update old buses, as well as improve routes and add new transit options. Tampa is notorious for the lack of transit options, and if done right, the money used here could be instrumental in the growth of Tampa Bay.

The Hillsborough County No. 3 referendum put out an SOS, and Hillsborough County voters answered to the call. The referendum to “Strengthen Our Schools” passed with 56 percent of the vote. By raising the sales tax by one half percent for 10 years, the county promises to put money into improving our schools. They promise to replace or repair air conditioning systems, enhance classroom technology and security, fix leaky roofs, update old buildings and expand classroom space.  The money generated from the tax is predicted to reach $130 million per year for the next 10 years. According to the Strengthen Our Schools website, much of the revenue will be generated by tourism dollars and the tax will be limited to the first $5,000 of a taxable transaction, and will not apply to medicine or groceries. Many of Hillsborough County’s school buildings are old and improvements have been long overdue. The money generated from this tax will be very beneficial to students at Hillsborough County Schools and their futures as well as the future of Hillsborough County.

Together the two referendums will raise sales tax by 1 and a half percent. This seems like a small price to pay if the money generated from these taxes is used as promised. The new sales tax rates will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2019.