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Saturday, Aug 18, 2018
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Tampa chamber supports sales tax for Go Hillsborough transportation plan

The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce now officially supports a proposed half-cent-per-dollar sales tax for transportation projects.

The chamber’s board of directors voted unanimously this morning to back the tax that would finance the Go Hillsborough community transportation plan, a list of more than 400 road, bridge, trail and mass transit projects. Hillsborough County commissioners will decide Wednesday whether to put the tax and project list on the Nov. 8 ballot.

“Transportation improvements are a priority of the chamber and business community,” said chamber CEO Bob Rohrlack in a written statement. “Our recent poll and 2014 survey of over 2,500 employees of member companies found that traffic is a major concern. The status quo cannot continue.”

Rohrlack went on to say that the community must make a “significant investment” in better roads and mass transit options. Chamber members said they would support the half-cent tax increase levied for at least 20 years. The referendum county commissioners will vote on Wednesday is a 30-year tax that would raise $3.5 billion during that time.

“The cost of doing nothing is greater than the cost of investing in transportation options,” Rohrlack said.

The chamber released a poll April 7 that said as many as 54 percent of respondents would support a half-cent sales tax increase for transportation improvements. That rate slipped to 47 percent, however, when the question was put in different contexts.

County Administrator Mike Merrill, who has taken the lead in explaining and boosting the Go Hillsborough plan and tax, said he welcomed the chamber’s support.

“I think it’s important for the overall effort and I’m really pleased they took a position,” Merrill said. “I think the business community is key to this, and the chamber is the representative of the business community. So it’s very significant for them to do that.”

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