Transportation “Cost Affordable Plan”

It appears from the Spring 2010 MPO newsletter that for the remaining two transportation corridors (West & Northeast) that there is no possible way anyone could hope to even estimate the final costs to the taxpayers. Each corridor still has 3 possible routes, and “The type of transit has not yet been decided.”

I’m trying to noodle my way through various other County documents to find some hard numbers, and I may be reading these wrong, but this is what I’m concerned about so far: 

Chapter 9, page 9-9, Table 9.1 of the 2035 Long Range Transportation Plan shows that the County Sales Tax that will reasonably be available through 2035 totals $7.5 BILLION.

  • Shouldn’t this number be included somewhere in the ballot language for the “penny” tax increase referendum? 

Chapter 10, page 10-2 of that same report says “The combined cost for a balanced and diverse transportation Cost Affordable Plan through the year 2035 is approximately $11.9 BILLION in year-of-expenditure (YOE) CAPITAL funding.”

  • Shouldn’t this number be also included in the ballot language as possibly the total capital cost of The Transportation Plan, additional funding for which will have to come from the taxpayers in other local, state and federal taxes? 

The Hillsborough County MPO 2035 Long Range Transportation Plan – Transit Needs Assessment As adopted December 9, 2009 shows a figure for total annual Operating & Maintenance of $478 MILLION.

  • Shouldn’t this number be included somewhere in the ballot language? 

This reminds me to go back again to Chapter 9, page 9-7 of the 2035 Long Range Transportation Plan. It shows by way of example how well the 1996 CIT half-cent sales tax went for “transportation, school, parks and recreational improvements.” What it doesn’t say is how that half-cent revenue stream was bonded-out, resulting in expensive debt service costs through 2035. 

As nearly as I can tell, the combined County of Hillsborough debt is now nearly $1 BILLION. The annual interest on the debt service may be over $50 MILLION, or about equal to what the 2011 budget deficit is projected to be. 

If bonding out the half-penny sales tax was such a good idea, how good of an idea would it be to bond-out the full-penny sales tax? How much of that almost $8 BILLION revenue stream could wind up as public debt, and how much of other taxpayer revenues would be obligated each year to service the interest on that debt?

  • Shouldn’t the very real possibility of some magnitude of additional debt service be included somewhere in the ballot language? 

<IMHO> Fred Jacobsen

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