Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: Greenlight agreement puts double taxation issue to rest

A written agreement between the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority and county government should resolve concerns that the transit agency could levy both property and sales taxes if voters approve the Greenlight Pinellas transit referendum in November. The PSTA formally agrees to end the property tax it levies now if the 1-cent sales tax is approved, and the transit agency and the county pledge to persuade state legislators to repeal its authority to levy property taxes. The agreement should erase any doubts about the financing foundation of the Greenlight plan and the strength of the PSTA's promise to replace the transit property tax with the sales tax.

The PSTA has been saying for several years that if voters would let it raise more money through a sales tax, it would give up the property tax that now funds the agency. Two years ago, the PSTA even persuaded lawmakers to pass legislation guaranteeing the repeal of its property taxing authority if the transit referendum passed. Gov. Rick Scott vetoed the bill, which Greenlight opponents had lobbied against — an ironic twist, since one of their arguments against Greenlight was that the PSTA could collect both a property tax and the 1-cent sales tax if the voter referendum passes Nov. 4.

Levying both taxes was never the PSTA's plan, and the agreement approved by the Pinellas County Commission and the PSTA board last month formalizes the PSTA's intentions and builds in accountability.

The PSTA pledges in the agreement that if the sales tax referendum passes, it will stop levying its property tax on Oct. 1, 2015, and in any future year it gets sales tax revenue. If some future PSTA board goes rogue and levies a property tax anyway, the agreement allows the county to reduce the sales tax stream to the PSTA by the amount the property tax levy collects, and ultimately to permanently reduce or end the sales tax levy.

The agreement also hands the county the right to have its attorney approve documents involving loans or bonds the PSTA will seek to build the expanded bus system and light rail line; contains a "milestone schedule" for completing various phases of the Greenlight plan; declares that the sales tax may be spent only on Greenlight; and requires the PSTA to reimburse the county up to $100,000 for its costs associated with Greenlight.

Pinellas residents educating themselves in preparation for the transit referendum should not fear double taxation. It is illogical to believe that the PSTA would put at risk a $100-million-a-year sales tax revenue stream for a property tax that collects only $30 million. Any claims that Pinellas residents still could wind up paying both property and sales taxes for transit are off base.

Comments
Editorial: Tax cuts arenít worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts arenít worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Another voice: Privacy in the internet age

How much information about you is on your cellphone? Likely the most intimate details of your life: photographs, internet searches, text and email conversations with friends and colleagues. And though you might not know it, your phone is constantly c...
Published: 12/10/17
Updated: 12/11/17
Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Confronted with documentation of sanctioned brutality and sexual abuse in Floridaís juvenile detention centers, the reaction from Gov. Rick Scottís administration was defensive and obtuse. So itís welcome news that Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

Editorial: U.S. House sides with NRA over stateís rights on concealed weapons permits

With the horror of the mass shootings at a Las Vegas country music concert and a small Texas church still fresh, the U.S. House finally has taken action on guns. But the bill it passed last week wonít make Americans safer from gun violence. It is an ...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

There is no satisfaction for anyone in the standoff over pay raises between the Hillsborough County School District and its teachers. Most teachers across the nation already are underpaid, but this district simply cannot afford the raises teachers ex...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

With a buildout of $3 billion encompassing entire city blocks, itís obvious that Jeff Vinikís plans will change the look and feel of downtown Tampa. But the Tampa Bay Lightning owner unveiled a broader vision last week that reflects how far the impac...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17
Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

It is dangerous and illegal to text while driving in Florida, and police should be able to pull over and ticket those lawbreakers without witnessing another violation first. House Speaker Richard Corcoran has lent his powerful voice to legislation th...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Editorial: Outsourcing common sense on St. Petersburg Pier naming rights

St. Petersburg officials predict that selling the naming rights to parts of the new Pier could generate $100,000 in annual revenue. But first the city wants to pay a consultant to tell it how and to whom to sell the rights. Why do city officials need...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Another voice: Trumpís risky move

President Donald Trumpís decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israelís capital has a certain amount of common sense on its side. As a practical matter, West Jerusalem has been the seat of Israeli government since 1949, and no conceivable formula for Pa...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

A tactical retreat and regrouping seems to be paying off for Hillsborough Countyís Museum of Science and Industry. After paring back its operations, the museum posted a small profit over the past year, enabling the attraction to keep its doors open a...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17