Penny Sales Tax – Enough?

I am concerned about two figures appearing in the Fall 2009 newsletter posted on the website of the Metropolitan Planning Organization for Transportation (MPO). It estimates the penny sales tax increase bringing in nearly $6 billion to Hillsborough County through 2035. Another estimate has just the Light Rail project costing nearly $6 billion through 2035.

If these estimates are accurate, how are the bus enhancements and road projects to be funded? 

Is it too late before the Penny Sales Tax Increase gets approved to go on the ballot, for the County to produce/share a year-by-year cash flow projection through 2035 of when cash is expected to be received; how much cash will be received, from what sources; when cash must be spent to pay bills and debts and how much cash will be needed to pay expenses including operating expenses and interest payments on bonds? 

According to Hillsborough County’s Small Business Information Center (SBIC):  “To be competitive, small business owners must prepare for all future events and market changes. The most important aspect of preparation is effective cash flow planning. Failure to properly plan cash flow is one of the leading causes for small business failure.” 

I believe that Hillsborough taxpayers must first understand how the people responsible for the “business of the County” are going to manage this new tax for this new, but not small, business venture. After all, we only need to break even for it not to fail.

Somehow, assurances by the County that “the penny sales tax will pay for it all” are really no assurance at all.

<IMHO> Fred Jacobsen

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