Pinellas commissioners talk transit tax for buses, light rail

Published Oct. 29, 2013

Pinellas County commissioners are set to begin debating later Tuesday the wording of a sales tax referendum to pay for mass transit that will go on the ballot in 2014.

But before those discussions begin, the attorney for the county's transit agency, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, has drawn up a draft for the commissioners to consider. The draft asks voters to approve a full one-cent increase and specifies that it would pay for an expanded bus system, including bus rapid transit, as well as passenger rail.

Interestingly, it does not use the term "light rail," which has become a politically touchy term and is often confused with an earlier proposal to build high-speed rail between Tampa and Orlando.

Here's the draft language PSTA has given to the commission:

Levy of county-wide one-percent transportation sales surtax for funding of public transit (Greenlight Pinellas)

Shall the improvement, operation and maintenance of public transit throughout Pinellas County, including without limitation an expanded bus system with bus rapid transit, increased frequency and extended hours, future passenger rail and regional connections be funded by levying a one percent transportation sales surtax from January 1, 2016 until repealed?