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Fact-Checking Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn on the Economy


Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn's reelection campaign is off and running with an ad playing on local cable TV.

And the 60 second commercial makes a lot of claims, especially about the fiscal health of Tampa under the Buckhorn administration.

For one thing, the commercial says that the Tampa Bay area leads Florida in job creation.

"We rated this one mostly false," said Josh Gillin of PolitiFact Florida. "This is actually referring to the entire Tampa Bay area and Buckhorn told us he did, indeed, mean the entire Tampa Bay area. The problem is when you look at the 12 months through 2014, Tampa Bay actually came in fifth. And that is down from 2013 when it was first."

Another claim in the Buckhorn commercial is that "Bob balanced the budget without raising taxes.

"We called this one mostly false and let's remember about mostly false... there is a bit of truth to this," Gillin explained. "What he is saying is that they did not increase the millage rates for property taxes for the city of Tampa. And that's true, they did not. But the value of property has rebounded since the recession so, in effect, people are seeing a slight increase in the amount that they will be paying."

And, finally, the new Buckhorn campaign commercial says that the mayor has secured the highest possible bond rating for the city of Tampa.

"We called this one half true," said Gillin. "What he's talking about is how credit rating agencies have rated the city of Tampa. And that is how banks measure how much they should charge in interest to a city. It's in the best interest of the city to have a high rating so interest rates when they borrow are lower. In this case the Standard and Poor's Index did say that the city's general credit rating went up from AA+ to to AAA. That is its highest rating. But, when you're talking about other agencies like Fitch and Moody's, well those are not quite the highest -- although some of them have gone up. But there are ratings that still aren't as high as they could be."

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