Last week the Pinellas County Republican Executive Committee hosted a discussion between supporters and opponents of the proposed ballot referendum to increase the sales tax from seven to eight percent for light rail in Pinellas County.
Barbara Haselden of No Tax for Tracks Pinellas spoke against the referendum; Jeff Danner represented Greenlight Pinellas, the group supporting the tax increase. Both speakers got fifteen minutes to present their arguments to the crowd, after which a brief audience Q&A ensued, and finally the speakers each got three minutes to make a closing statement.
Danner spoke off the cuff and appealed to the emotions of the crowd, recounting his personal experience of having to trick an elderly parent out of his car keys to prevent him from driving anymore and being a danger to the public. He did not address any specific issues of the proposal such as cost, expense, proposed routes, or anticipated ridership numbers.
Haselden had a pretty easy job, cruising quickly through slide after slide obtained directly from the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority website, making a strong case against the sales tax increase. She showed that no matter how much revenue the PSTA took in over the years, they managed to spend every penny… and more.
On Wednesday, April 23rd, a special Board of Directors meeting is being held at PSTA headquarters, located at 3201 Scherer Drive in St. Petersburg at 5:00 PM. They will hear a presentation from American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) Darnell Grisby, Director of Policy Development and Research entitled “Millennials and Public Transportation.” The meeting is open to the public but no public comment will be taken. The Board of Directors meeting will be held afterward at 6:00 pm and public comments can be made at that time.
The American Public Transportation Association is a major Washington, D.C. lobby group advocating light rail initiatives throughout the country.
If you want to see the pretty trains that PSTA, APTA, TBARTA and Greenlight Pinellas have planned for the one hundred million dollars of increased revenue anticipated if the referendum passes in November, plan to attend this meeting.