Some believe senate bill will help Pinellas public transit

St. Petersburg, Florida – Voters will decide on a sales tax increase in November that will support Pinellas County Transit Authority.

The one cent increase is part of a project called "Greenlight Pinellas," which seeks to use the money to build light rail from Clearwater to St. Petersburg and purchase new buses for the county.

Currently, PSTA is supported by a property tax, but that would be swapped out of the sales tax increase is approved.

The group "No Tax for Tracks" is against the one cent tax increase and has launched an offensive.

They are just as suspicious of SB786, introduced by District 20 Senator Jack Latvala.

Wording in the bill says that "discretionary sales surtaxes" can be used "for the maintenance of transportation infrastructure if the local government ordinance authorizing such use is approved by referendum."

"My bill would allow that tax if it is reenacted to be used for maintenance for those things that are built," said Sen. Latvala.

To some, that means a double tax to fund Greenlight Pinellas, which is supposed to be funded by the sales tax increase.

"This Latvala bill shows that the rich and well-connected, that not even a three percent tax hike to raise $1.8 billion, is not enough to build their precious train," said David McKalip with No Tax for Tracks, a group firmly against Greenlight Pinellas.

Latvala denied that the bill would help Greenlight Pinellas from Tallahassee on Wednesday.

"(It) doesn't have anything to do with Greenlight Pinellas. That's a county …. that's has to be spent on just transportation. This doesn't have anything to do with that," he said.

Voters will be able to voice their decision on November 14th.


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