Friday, June 22, 2012

Hillsborough County Budget Proposes Money Option To Save Friendship TrailBridge

SWFBUD was happy to hear tonight that Bill Varian of the Tampa Bay Times wrote in his county budget story that Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill includes $27.5 million in the proposed county budget to rehab the Friendship TrailBridge into a linear park above the Bay. Merrill, as you will read below, includes the money as an option.

We still need you to attend Wednesday's county commission meeting to advise the county commissioners to save the closed TrailBridge.

SWFBUD has lobbied hard to advise our local governments in the Tampa Bay area to build bicycle-friendly infrastructure. Obviously, we are pleased Merrill's budget includes the funding option to save the FTB.

Here is a section of Varian's story that focuses on the FTB:

(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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