Monday, November 20, 2017
Transportation

Greenlight Pinellas endorsement rejected by Seminole council

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SEMINOLE — The Seminole City Council has rejected a resolution endorsing the Greenlight Pinellas transit plan.

Five of the council's seven members voted Tuesday night against the resolution. If approved by voters Nov. 4, the referendum would increase the county's sales tax by a penny, to 8 cents on the dollar, to expand bus service and build a 24-mile light rail system between St. Petersburg and Clearwater. The tax would replace the property tax that funds the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority.

"I don't see a value for our residents," Vice Mayor Thomas Barnhorn said before the vote.

Mayor Leslie Waters and council members Chris Burke, John Counts and Bob Matthews also voted against.

"I'm just not thrilled with an 8 percent sales tax," Waters said.

Some council members voiced doubt that light rail is viable in Pinellas County.

Council members Jim Quinn and Patricia Plantamura supported the resolution.

Plantamura noted the plan includes more bus service in the city. Quinn said Pinellas needs to be a leader in public transit for the benefit of the county and state.

"If we don't get on board, if Florida doesn't get on board, we're going to be in the Dark Ages again," Quinn said.

Seminole is the first city to reject an endorsement.

Eleven municipalities have endorsed the plan, including St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Largo. Madeira Beach became the 11th Tuesday night by voting unanimously to support Greenlight Pinellas.

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