St. Petersburg, Florida – Four mayors gathered on Tuesday afternoon to show their support for Greenlight Pinellas, a plan that they say would dramatically change the face of transportation in the Bay area.
"This is a plan to raise the standard of transit in Pinellas County to all of the other major metropolitan areas," said Mayor R.B. Johnson of Indian Rocks Beach.
The other mayors in attendance were St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.
If voters approve a one-cent increase in the sales tax on Nov. 4, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority would put more buses on the road, decrease wait times for riders and eventually build a light-rail system from St. Petersburg to Clearwater Beach.
"It's good for my city, it's good from a quality of life standpoint," Kriseman said.
While the plan is Pinellas-centric, Buckhorn said it will have an impact on future transportation plans in his city and the county has a whole.
"I need folks to understand how important this Greenlight and if they pass this and I hope they do, that will impact what will happen in Hillsborough County."
Currently, PSTA is funded through property taxes, which would end if the sales tax is approved, a move that regularly brings protesters and opponents to Greenlight Pinellas meetings.
"They don't talk about $130 million in new tax revenue that's going to be taken from the pockets and middle class," said David McKalip with No Tax for Tracks, a group opposed to Greenlight Pinellas.
But supporters say Greenlight Pinellas is about putting the area on a level playing field with other major cities like Charlotte in attracting new employers and young adults who want to live in an urban setting with easy access to public transportation.
"We're competing for intellectual capital. We're competing for those bright young people who can live anywhere in the world they want to live," Buckhorn said.