TAMPA -- Hillsborough commissioners have voted in an emergency meeting to appeal a judge's ruling that throws a transportation sales tax off the ballot.
Hillsborough County attorney Christine Beck told commissioners the 2022 referendum was based on wording that was approved by the courts, even as they rejected the 2018 referendum.
Attorney Rob Brazell says state and local governments get an automatic stay in court rulings. He says they'll do everything they can to keep the stay in place, allowing the election to go forward.
During public comment, many residents urged the county not to appeal. They said the judge's ruling was correct and the incompetence of staff and commissioners earned it by misleading the public. They disputed the commission's assertion that the ballot language was identical to language approved in 2018. Josie Ficke said the problem isn't money, it's growth outpacing infrastructure. "If you're so worried, stop building and let the roads catch up," she said. Longtime transportation activist Sharon Calvert said "the ballot is now tainted."
Others urged the county to go forward with the appeal. Nathan Hagen is a self-described YIMBY, part of a movement that encourages affordable housing. He says infrastructure is an important aspect of making homes affordable. "Please take any steps necessary... including appealing this cynical and partisan judgment," Hagen said. Business groups and the head of the firefighters union also spoke in favor of appealing the tax ruling.
Mail ballots have already gone out and early voting begins October 24th.
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