New Tampa is considering seceding from Tampa and get more of its tax dollars back. There is a spirited debate between candidates in the runoff election regarding the secession move.
It’s the perception, not uncommon in City Council candidate debates during any election cycle, that City Hall takes a disproportionate share of tax money from Tampa’s neighborhoods and uses it downtown.
In fact, neither the question nor the candidates addressed where most property taxes paid by Tampa residents do go. It’s not to downtown — or more specifically, to downtown projects. Rather, it’s to public safety. Property taxes citywide are projected to raise a total of $153 million in 2017. But it will cost $240 million just to run the Police Department and Tampa Fire Rescue.
Still, that didn’t prevent Davison and Viera from exchanging some pointed criticisms on the idea and each other during a debate in front of Forest Hills residents at the Babe Zaharias Golf Course clubhouse.
Sixteen years ago, Davison said, New Tampa residents talked about this once before.
“We were not getting our fair share,” he said. “As soon as we started talking about secession, and we starting organizing ourselves in the New Tampa Transportation Task Force and the New Tampa Community Council, all of a sudden we started getting road improvements, money for recreation. …
“You never want to give away any leverage that you have in any negotiations,” he said. “I’m not alienating anybody. What I’m doing is expressing a frustration that people in Forest Hills feel, that people in Compton Park feel, that people in New Tampa feel.”