A few weeks ago I posted Light Rail Revisited. If you didn't see it click on the link and be sure to read the COMMENTS.
The PSTA has sent the County Commission a recommendation to include a ballot initiative to add 1 percent to Pinellas County sales tax for transportation.
On the surface, the PSTA makes the argument that the bus system will have a budget shortfall of $8 Million in 2016 and needs the additional revenue, but the ballet initiative would also allow the sales tax revenue to be used for Light Rail. The commenters in the Light Rail Revisited Post bring up a lot of excellent points. Check them out.
My guess is the light rail people will quickly grab the lion's share of the money.
In the last day or so we have seen how HART (Hillsborough Area Rapid Transit) and PSTA (Pinellas Sun Coast Transit Authority) are tap dancing around a state order that they merge to reduce duplication and save some money.
Protecting the fiefdoms seems to be the issue and it is also the problem.
Take TBRTA(Tampa Bay Regional Transit Authority) for example. Over the last 5 years or so I have been to probably 10 presentations from TBARTA, each one presented by some high paid consulting firm, and TBARTA has yet to really produce anything practical.
Public Transportation in the Bay area could be the poster child for government boondoggle.
Before we, the taxpayers, agree to provide an unending flow of sales tax revenue to be used by people who have, to this point, produced less than stellar results and fund those who would cut a swath through the middle of the State's most densely populated county so some politicians can stand in front of an empty train and proudly claim success, we better think a bit.
Raising the sales tax to 8% can't be that good for tourism, remember the goose and the golden eggs.
Almost all agree a sales tax is a regressive tax, but the public transportation people would encourage your yes vote to a sales tax to support them while adding a heavier tax burden to those they say they wish to serve.
The light rail people, like flock of vultures, are trying to ride into the sales tax revenue stream on the fears the bus system will collapse without the tax.
All of this could be a ballot issue in 2014. The Pinellas County Commission should either receive and file the sales tax request or better yet send it back to the PSTA and ask them for a proposal that deals with the bus system only. And if PSTA is really in the light rail camp a separate proposal for light rail.
Hillsborough County voted down a sales tax proposal for light rail, Pinellas voters would be wise to follow suit should the issue in its present from make it to the ballot.
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