Q: Gulfport City Council Member Dan Liedtke:
A:PSTA CEO Brad Miller:
This last week saw more activity in the run-up to the November 2014 referendum to foist a greater than 300% tax hike on Pinellas County dwellers for “Greenlight Pinellas”. Volunteers marched to stop the tax in the Seminole POW Wow Parade. PSTA Chief Brad Miller had to admit deception to the City Council of Gulfport and the Chamber of Commerce brought their math skills into question.
- Brad Miller admits Greenlight “Education campaign” is Deceptive and One Sided.
Brad Miller is the CEO of PSTA, the local government agency that seeks to triple its tax revenue from $30 million a year to $130 million with a yes vote on “Greenlight Pinellas” to build a $2.3 billion St. Pete to Clearwater Train. He appeared before the City Council of Gulfport and admitted that the “educational” campaign PSTA pays for will cost taxpayers at least $800,000 by the end of 2014. His big bombshell: The taxpayer funded Greenlight Pinellas “Education Campaign” has NEVER mentioned any of the negatives of the proposed plan. It has not mentioned the 300 tax revenue hike or the 14% sales tax rate hike, or the increased congestion or increased density. It has not mentioned that bus service would be the first cut if money runs out or that Charlotte, NC ran out of money after building 30% of their plan and now needs another tax hike. In addition Mr. Miller admitted that the population growth numbers they project (200,000 more people by 2040) are at the upper range of the estimate and unrealistic and had to acknowledge that the County has lost citizens in the last several years. He also admitted that annual extra $100 million in sales tax revenue would be used as leverage to borrow more money for the train construction – thus putting taxpayers into debt. He also admitted that the Greenlight referendum would NOT eliminate the property tax, even though a PSTA sent an email asserting it would be eliminated if the referendum is passed. See the admissions and honest scrutiny by City Councilman Dan Liedtke at time mark 53:30 minutes here:
2. Huge Hit in the Parade: No Tax For Tracks! Volunteers from No Tax For Tracks received a great reception as they marched in the Seminole Pow Wow parade. Many people at the parade were cheering the float and on camera interviews showed a high level of opposition against the tax. The Sun Beam Times poll in January showed that 61% of voters opposed raising sales taxes to build a St. Pete to Clearwater Train.
3. Chamber of Commerce Business Groups Can’t Do Math? The St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce sent an email to its members asserting that the tax hike from 7 cents to 8 cents is not a 14% hike! Instead they offered some distraction about how – if property tax goes away – some people will pay less taxes. They have hit the nail on the head there since indeed, those who are wealthier and own a home more than $150,000 will have a potential tax cut, but the poorer people without property will have a new tax. Thus the tax is more regressive since the the poor pay more taxes and the rich ostensibly pay less. Even that is doubtful though since those with more money buy more things and will still pay a 8% sales tax on all merchandise under $5,000 and their businesses will pay 8% on commercial rent and builind materials without limit. The Chamber is correct in one regard, this is not a 14% tax hike – it is in fact a more than 300% tax hike since the tax revenue going to PSTA will be $130 million in 2016 and $148 million in 2017. That is up from $30 million in property tax revenue. In case the business leaders at the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce need some help with basic math for accounting purposes, here is the formula that shows raising sales taxes from 7 to 8 cents is indeed a greater than 14% sales tax rate hike.
|Formula: (new rate-old rate/old rate)*100=Percent Change
8-7 = 1
.1428 x 100 =14.28% sales tax rate hike