Hillsborough County Commissioner Mariella Smith wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. After the commission voted two weeks ago to not schedule a public hearing on a sales tax hike to fund transit, Smith wanted a second bite at the apple.
For today’s commission meeting, Smith inserted this agenda item to rescind the previous decision.
Smith’s effort was supported by commissioners Pat Kemp and Kimberly Overman. However, the effort failed as the other commissioners (Stacey White, Les Miller, Sandy Murman and Ken Hagan) continued to not see it their way.
After 45 minutes of public comment, the three commissioners pushing the effort spoke for about 20 minutes before the issue came to a vote. No one in the majority spoke. The effort failed 4-3, despite Commissioner Kemp histrionically calling transit workers “first responders.”
The push by the three rookie commissioners was no doubt driven by a realization that the Florida Supreme Court is likely to throw out the heavily Jeff Vinik-funded “citizen” sales tax hike in 2018. It gave Hillsborough County the highest sales tax in the state.
Today’s vote means that if the Florida Supreme Court does throw out the 2018 sales tax hike, it won’t make it back on the ballot this year.
The Guardian was the first news outlet to report on the legal problems with that effort, four months before the voters voted on it. The very issue raised by our article, together with other issues, is now before the Flordia Supreme Court.
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