Pinellas transit leaders vote on light rail tax today

Pinellas transit leaders vote on light rail tax today : “Light rail” is trending at the Pinellas County Transit Authority’s meeting this morning, as transit officials decide whether to back a one-cent sales tax that would transform mass transit in the county.

PSTA board members will be voting on whether to ask Pinellas County commissioners to put a referendum on the sales tax on the Nov. 4 ballot.

More than 100 people have signed up to talk about the proposal.

The meeting is under way at the agency’s administrative offices, at 3201 Scherer Drive in St. Petersburg.

The issue has drawn strong support and opposition, and both sides are expected to show up in force at today’s meeting.

If approved by Pinellas County voters, the local sales tax would go from seven to eight percent. That new revenue could cover construction of 24 miles of light rail from Clearwater to downtown St. Petersburg, an expanded bus system and more pedestrian and trails, among other things.

The proposed light rail system would cost an estimated $1.5 billion to $1.7 billion to build.

In a presentation to the transit board late last year, PSTA CEO Brad Miller said the new funding source is the only way to sustain the agency as of fiscal year 2016, when a combination of flat property tax revenue and increased operating costs will result in millions of dollars in cuts.

But light rail opponents say PSTA needs to focus on buses and that the proposed sales tax is just a way of bailing out an insolvent transit system.

light rail tax

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