Citizens will start voting October 1 (absentee ballot) on the proposed financing plan for PSTA’s Greenlight Pinellas plan. Here are five reasons to vote “No” between then and November 4, Election Day.
1. Highest sales tax in the state.
- Paying for the Greenlight Pinellas plan would require the highest sales tax in the state at 8%. This would amount to an additional $110 million per year going to the PSTA (the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority) which would be a 300% increase in their revenue.
- This would extend a brand new tax to be paid to the PSTA by over 500,000 residents of Pinellas County who don’t currently pay property tax.
- This would be more funds to an agency that has routinely misspent money, including the misspending of anti-terrorism funds to stop bus bombings on shameless feel-good ads to promote themselves and Greenlight Pinellas. PSTA had to return the $354,000 to the Department of Homeland security based on a Sunbeamtimes.com initiated investigation.
- The 300% revenue hike from the highest sales tax in the state would be to the PSTA that made false claims about their budgetary needs including claiming they would be $5 million in deficit this year, when they are in fact they have a $3 million surplus.
2. No Train to Tampa, North Pinellas, South Pinellas, the Beaches; Pinellas doesn’t need a train.
- The Greenlight train will connect downtown Clearwater to Downtown St. Petersburg. It will not travel across the bridge to Tampa.
- The PSTA and Greenlight put out deceptive maps showing a train connection to Tampa, but that is not part of the Greenlight plan or any other plan. While FDOT has committed $25 million to fund the substructure of a new Howard Frankland Bridge to support a train, no agency has committed the $1billion needed to build it. Further, Hillsborough voters rejected funding a train their by 58% in 2010 with a similar sales tax.
- The train stops short of black neighborhoods in Clearwater and St. Petersburg.
3. Greenlight takes from the poor to help the rich. (We even wrote a song about it!)
- This Tax will be regressive and hurt the poor and middle class the most, while giving a tax break to property owners with the most expensive properties. 70% of property tax paid to PSTA in property taxes comes from those 25% with the highest priced real estate in Pinellas county.
- Greenlight will create a $2.5 billion slush fund to build rail that will pay out to well-connected rail contractors, architects and land developers. These cronies are donating to pass this tax on the poor and middle class so they can get rich of the rail.
4. Greenlight is based on false congestion and economic promises.
- Greenlight won’t decrease congestion and every study done on the subject shows that congestion always continues to increase with rail.
- Cities with rail have slower highway speeds than those without, no help on major roads.
- The train will cross 41 intersections stopping cars traveling the roads.
- The Train will travel down the middle of East Bay Drive, Roosevelt Boulevard, 62nd Ave N (St. Pete) , Haines Road (Pinellas Park), and take nearly all parking in Downtown St. Pete where it travels along 1st Ave S, 2nd ST and 1st Ave. N.
- Greenlight won’t create new economic development. It will merely redistribute economic activity that would have occurred anyway.
- GDP growth since 2001 has been no different in cities with and without rail
- UC Berkeley Transit Expert Dr. Robert Cervero has shown in studies that rail money does not “Create” new growth, but merely redistributes it in the economy.
- Only the well-connected and the rich rail and land developers will have increased economic activity – off the highest sales tax in the state.
5.There is a better way to help bus riders without more Extravagant Government Spending.
- The goal should be a better bus system.
- There are many empty buses traveling in Pinellas County. 46% of the rides occur on only 5 of the 46 bus routes!
- PSTA should use modern internet technology to get feedback from riders to customize the routes to where they are needed.
- The PSTA can use smaller $144,000 shuttles for lower volume routes and save considerable fuel dollars.
- 70% of those opposed to Greenlight believe the PSTA can do provide better bus service within their current budget.
- If PSTA wanted to help the bus system, they could have asked for a 1/3 cent tax hike and gotten more than enough additional funds to do that. However, the main goal is to make corporate cronies wealthy with “transit oriented development” and rich rail contracts.
The Sunbeam Times has done considerable analysis on PSTA’s Greenlight Pinellas plan and readers are encouraged to search the term “Greenlight Pinellas” in the Categories list on the sidebar to learn more. All of the facts above have been verified by the Sunbeam Times and the links will be added to this post soon. More analysis and revelations on corporate cronyism and government waste will be forthcoming in the next few days.