June 25, 2021

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Hillsborough commission plans to refund $500-million ‘poisonous’ transportation tax revenue

Nearly one week after Hillsborough County’s Transportation Tax was squashed by the state Supreme Court, county commissioners and attorneys forged a path forward.

That path’s primary focus is refunding the $502.3 million in revenue already brought in by the tax.

“The court has ruled the money was essentially fruit from a poisonous tree,” said Commissioner Ken Hagan.

Hagan put forward a motion Tuesday afternoon to work with the Department of Revenue and Clerk of Court to create process to refund the money as quickly as possible. 

“Our citizens have been paying into this for two years – we waited to spend the money; we don’t need to wait any longer to refund the money,” he continued.

The motion was seconded by Commissioner Stacy White, who started the lawsuit against the tax two years ago.

The actions followed discussion from county attorneys Christine Beck and Alan Zimmet, with Beck noting that in her conversations with the Department of Revenue, attorneys said they’d never seen anything like this before. 

“Really this is an unprecedented situation for the Department of Revenue, and they seem to be indicating a judicial process is most appropriate,” she said.

Hagan’s motion passed unanimously during the commission meeting, but was quickly followed up by Commissioner Gwen Myers’ pitch to bring the tax back to the ballot for 2022, something she campaigned on.

“My motion is to direct the county attorney’s office to collaborate with the county administration to prepare the 1-percent transportation surtax timeline,” she said.

That timeline will be presented to the board on April 21, and is expected to include public hearing dates, and any other related items to the One Percent Transportation Tax Timeline.