Friday, June 22, 2012

Proposed Hillsborough County Budget Includes Option To Save TrailBridge

SWFBUD has lobbied hard to get Hillsborough County government to save the Friendship TrailBridge and convert the closed trail bridge into a linear park. SWFBUD has worked hard in that regard with a group of professionals to back a proposed plan to save the old Gandy Bridge.

That's why SWFBUD was happy to hear today that our lobbying work at advocating bike-friendly infrastructure improvements scored another one as Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill included $27.5 million in the proposed county budget to rehab the Friendship TrailBridge into a linear park above the Bay. Bill Varian of the Tampa Bay Times wrote this in his county budget story:

(Merrill) also presents the option of asking voters to approve a slight property tax increase that would be dedicated to parks and recreational centers. It would function similarly to the county's Environmental Lands Acquisition and Protection Program.

The county would take on debt to pay for a number of building projects, using proceeds from the tax to pay it over 10 years.

Included on the list of projects is $27.5 million to preserve the Friendship Trail Bridge, a former span of the Gandy Bridge, and converting it into an over-the-water linear park.

Merrill said he has heard enough positive feedback from commissioners to bring forward the new tax proposal. But it was unclear late Friday if the enthusiasm will wane once the proposal gets publicized. The 0.15-mill tax would cost the owner of a house valued at $165,000 about $25 a year.

"It is something that gives the voters an option to give either a thumbs-up or thumbs-down," Merrill said.

He said the county has all summer to get public feedback, not having to approve a referendum for the November ballot until September.

Complete Varian story:

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