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Politics / Issues

Buckhorn: Let Cities Vote on Rail Tax

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After losing a county-wide vote in 2010 to fund light rail in Hillsborough County, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn has come up with a new idea to bring mass transit options to his city.

Buckhorn wants Florida lawmakers to give municipalities the right to go to the voters for a sales tax referendum. Right now, all such votes must be countywide.

"If we had the ability to do that, I think you could see Mayor Foster and I get together to run referendums in our respective jurisdictions that would pass," Buckhorn said.

He said the two cities could connect downtown St. Petersburg to the airport, the airport to downtown Tampa, and downtown Tampa to the employment centers around USF.

In 2010, a proposed 1-cent sales tax to fund light rail passed among Tampa city voters but failed countywide. 

Buckhorn believes a Tampa city-wide sales tax could provide enough seed money to start a light rail system.

He made these comments on rail funding during a press conference on  city planning.

He says he doesn’t want Tampa to be the only major city in the U.S. without transportation options. So, the city’s master plan will prepare for mass transit choices such as buses and light rail.

Over the next four months, the city is holding workshops and walking tours, plus taking comments on social media to find out what people want and then will incorporate it into a master plan by October.