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Neighborhood Report

Traffic calming may take a special tax assessment

A million-dollar donation from Tampa General Hospital can only be used for parks.

By RICK GERSHMAN
Published June 30, 2006


Davis Islands property owners could pay for traffic calming needs through a special tax the City Council is considering.

Speeding and traffic have been major concerns for many Davis Islands residents in recent years. Some residents had inquired whether part of a $1-million donation from Tampa General Hospital could be used for traffic calming, including speed tables and other instruments.

However, after the council determined those dollars need to be used specifically for parks and recreation in Davis Islands, it directed the staff to investigate other funding options for traffic calming. Assistant city attorney Rolando Santiago outlined some ideas at the council's June 22 meeting.

Those ideas include assessing a flat tax or property tax, either of which could be approved with a majority vote of the council following a public hearing process. The issue would not go to a public vote, Santiago said.

Another option would be to form an association of residents that could assess itself under a state neighborhood improvement program, Santiago said. However, such an association would require 75 percent participation by property owners.

That's no easy feat, council member John Dingfelder said.

"When I was president of Davis Islands Civic Association ... our membership was typically 5 to 10 percent of the islands, and we were pretty happy with that," he said. "So I think getting 75 percent membership of anything is pretty hard when it's voluntary."

Santiago recommended the city do a study to identify the sources of the islands' traffic problems and propose solutions. There is no timeline for the tax; if it moves forward, the process could take up to two years, Santiago said.

Council member Linda Saul-Sena, who lives on Davis Islands, said she would share the information with residents to garner feedback. She proposed looking into the special assessment in April following discussions about the TGH donation and how it would be spent. The donation was part of a rezoning of city park land for a hospital parking garage.

Rick Gershman can be reached at rgershman@sptimes.com or at 226-3431.

[Last modified June 29, 2006, 10:55:26]


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