Poll commissioned by rail opponent shows Greenlight Pinellas on "shaky ground"
"Do you support raising sales taxes to build a commuter train from St. Petersburg to Clearwater?"
That's the first question in a poll paid for by former St. Petersburg City Council candidate David McKalip, and the results have him pleased. Of the more-then 1,000 Pinellas residents surveyed by St. Pete Polls last week, 45 percent initially said they would not support the tax increase, 39 percent said they would, and 16 percent were unsure.
Later, after being told that Pinellas would have the highest sales tax in the state, 61 percent of the poll’s participants said no, they wouldn’t vote for it. A majority also said they wouldn’t ride a train from St. Petersburg to Clearwater on "a regular basis."
A vocal opponent of the Greenlight Pinellas proposal to raise the county’s sales tax to pay an expansion of mass transit, McKalip wrote on his website that the poll results show "the Greenlight Pinellas campaign is on shaky ground." The results could become a source of ammunition for No Tax for Tracks, the main group that has formed to oppose the referendum, and which held its campaign kickoff last week.
But as Creative Loafing’s Mitch Perry noted today, the referendum’s supporters will just as readily dismiss these survey results as skewed.
For one, McKalip's questions don't mention plans to increase the county's public bus service by 65 percent, by far the most popular piece of the Greenlight Plan.
And the results look nothing like the findings of a December 2013 poll paid for by the Tampa Bay Times and other local media outlets, which asked participants: "Do you support or oppose an upcoming referendum next year to increase the sales tax by one cent to expand bus service and build a passenger rail system in Pinellas County?"
To that question, 55 percent of Pinellas residents said yes, 36 percent said no, and 9 percent were unsure.