Route to rail is route to new taxes

booty bag

Please deposit $200 million every year.

Today’s Tampa Tribune carried a front page article about Charlotte’s experience with light-rail. This is being held up to the public as the best example of the benefits it would bring to Tampa. 

Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx makes the outrageous statement that although their rail project only opened in late 2007, $800 million in new development has been completed or is under construction, while in the same breath says that growth had halted since the 2008 recession. All of this development took place in just one-quarter? Again, “depending on the economic recovery” Foxx predicts double that will occur.  

What kind of “development” are we talking about? 

  •  A 269-unit apartment complex.
    Hillsborough County can’t fill the many empty living units now because people don’t have jobs.
  • A downtown shopping center.
    All the new jobs created are clerks and restaurant workers. Hardly “good-paying jobs”.

Foxx finally comes clean: “It’s really about land use even more than transportation.”
This is what Moving Hillsborough Forward does not want voters to discuss; that the most benefits will go to land owners in downtown Tampa and near rail stations.

Foxx goes on to talk about how hard it is for people on the street to understand rail, and that you have to paint them a picture.

What about it Hillsborough voters; are we too ignorant to decide for ourselves if we want a $200 million/year tax increase for a downtown Choo-Choo? 

 What about the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, how do they feel about rail? Chamber president Bob Morgan says “Very few companies put their offices on light rail…” 
Tampa/Hillsborough has vacant office space everywhere, do we really need more? Did anyone tell you that the sales tax increase will hit the small business owner hard, and they will have to pass that along to their customers: YOU!

Charlotte’s rail system is heavily subsidized by the taxpayers: for each $1 ticket sold to a rider, the taxpayer is forced to come up with an additional $3. For Hillsborough taxpayers, we would be forced to pay $9. 

Finally, downtown business owner Chuck Sykes of Sykes Enterprises says “This is the people’s chance to make a choice.” 

I agree Chuck, let’s choose.
I choose to not increase our taxes. We need good-paying jobs now, not more phone-room jobs, or some magic rail jobs 5 years from now.

<IMHO> Fred Jacobsen 


2 Responses to “Route to rail is route to new taxes”

  1. One other thing…..if rail is passed and all this development comes…will it all be entitled to the property tax abatement that will be on the ballot? Of course, nobody can answer that since we don’t know what the policies will be and who would be entitled to what since that hasn’t been decided yet.

    Somebody has to pay for the infrastructure…. I’m just sayin….

  2. Fox was correct. In fact, after reading the plan to regionalize TBARTA (which was the plan all along) an e-mail discussion ensued between myself and some friends. This is the one of the comments I made regarding the lite rail plan and tax:

    “It’s a shame because I believe in multi modal transpiration and rail but NOT the way our leadership is planning it here. This rail plan is more about development than it is about providing better transportation. ”

    The building of the rail are all temporary. In fact, many of those jobs will go to out of town folks who send their money back home. Local companies have a hard time competing because of the exhorbitant worker’s compensation rates are so high in this State.

    Good post. I hope others aren’t blinded by the glitz and empty promises.

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