Following Higginbotham's lead, Hillsborough Commissioner to look look for alternative (i.e., non-taxpayer) funds for transportation (including light rail)

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Commissioner Sandy Murman questioned what agency will lead the investigation into potential new sources of funding.  She also said that public/private partnerships would be an ideal source of funding, giving a shout out to Indiana GOP Governor Mitch Daniels, who Murman said "did some incredible things" in Indiana on utilizing such funding sources.

County Attorney Renee Lee said that requests for public records have been made to HART, TBARTA and the city of Tampa, and she said she was aiming to report back to the BOCC sometime in the first quarter of 2011.

Commissioner Sharpe also suggested that former state Senator Jim Sebesta and Ron Rotella of the Westshore Alliance be contacted for their ideas.

Emphasizing that he was not looking for a new way to use taxpayer funds, Hillsborough County Commission Chairman Al Higgenbotham today convinced his colleagues on the Board to support the county attorney and administrator to study possible sources of funding for the county's transportation needs that don't rely on county money.

Higgenbotham was one of the biggest critics of the transit tax for light rail, bus and road improvements that went down to a crashing defeat last month.  Higginbotham and former Commissioner Jim Norman voted against even putting the measure for citizens to vote on.

Commissioner Mark Sharpe, one of the biggest supporters for the ballot measure, said that there was discussion at the Hillsborough Metropolitan Organization's meeting on Tuesday of a possible "demonstration line" that would go from downtown Tampa to Tampa International Airport.  Similar talk was heard at a postmortem for the failed initiative at a discussion hosted by the Tampa Downtown Partnership last month.

But Higginbotham said that he wasn't ready to discuss any specific routes at the moment.

County Commissioner Kevin Beckner expressed concerned about the hiring of a consultant to help out the board in their investigation, citing a possible duplication of work, saying that all of the work that HART has done over the past couple of years is still very relevant.

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