Five Reasons to Vote No on Greenlight Pinellas: Highest Sales Tax in the State and More.

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.

Pinellas Will Have the Highest Sales Tax Rate in State if Voters Approve it in 2014 -for a train from St. Pete to Clearwater.

Pinellas Will Have the Highest Sales Tax Rate in State if Voters Approve it in 2014 -for a train from St. Pete to Clearwater.

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 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.
There is no funding for a train to Tampa in the Greenlight Pinellas Plan or any other plan. Look at the many other places the train does NOT go.

There is no funding for a train to Tampa in the Greenlight Pinellas Plan or any other plan. Look at the many other places the train does NOT go.

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.


Lot's of well-connected, wealthy corporate cronies will get rich to build an unneeded train in Pinellas.

Lot’s of well-connected, wealthy corporate cronies will get rich to build an unneeded train in Pinellas.

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.
Turns out many cities in America have wisely avoided commuter rail. These cities have faster traffic at rush hour too!

Turns out many cities in America have wisely avoided commuter rail. These cities have faster traffic at rush hour too!

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.


7 people per day. If Greenlight  Pinellas passes, we will have more of these. That is if they don't rob bus expansion to pay for the train.

But we should use these shuttles to replace the empty, $650,000 gas guzzlers.

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.


7 Replies:

  1. Boss Tweed

    Plus, who would ride a train for an hour and a half and have to get a cab or wait for a bus to finish their journey when they could drive the same distance in less than half of that time?

    Fortunately for us, facts don’t matter because we are and the mainstream “news” works for us.

  2. Gary West

    EVERY property owner will pay more in sales tax than they will save when the transit tax is removed from their tax bill. In our case (a VERY middle class retired couple) the additional tax bite will be in excess of $120.00. Is it worth more of your tax dollars to provide a choo-choo to salve the egos of politicians?

    NO moneys have been budgeted for relocation of existing utilities (CATV, power, water, telephone, gas, etc.) Want to guess who will absorb the additional costs when PSTA “suddenly” finds these issues must be addressed and paid for?

    Businesses that own large amounts of property, Duke Power, Bayfront Hospital, T.B. Rays, Tampa Bay Times, etc., in fact all the big businesses that support this taxpayer ripoff will benefit from this joke of a tax swap. Why? Their property tax bill will drop and that drop will be significant. A sales tax increase is of no matter. The sales tax is a pass-through…….right to the end-use consumer. You, Mr. and Mrs. Sucker, will pay even more.

    The fast talking pols. would have you think that your tax hit will be chump-change. It will ba, in a manner of speaking….you’re the chump and PSTA will take a LOT of your change.

    This hustle, Greenlight Pinellas, has been in the pipeline just waiting for the moment when the politicians and PSTA think you stupid enough to vote for this scam. Why do you think our public transportation system is so miserable? The PSTA sees no need to do their public duty and work to create systen that works for their user base. i.e. economical buses, intelligent route, buses sized to meet ridership demands, etc. The grand plan was to give the public a sick, sorry, one-size-fits-all transportation plan that doesn’t work then scream they need money to do the job they should have been doing.

    Greenlight Pinellas is a well thought-out scheme designed to screw the taxpayer.

    1. Chris Tauchnitz

      Not every property owner. Those that are business owners that have property will not pay property tax and typically don’t pay sales tax but will collect sales tax as part of doing business.

      Businesses will see the tax decrease!

      1. Sun Beam Times Post author

        Chris, you are right, some business owners will see their property tax they pay to PSTA decrease. HOWEVER when THEY buy anything for their business they will pay sales tax on it. IT will be a wash or an increase in their taxes for most small business. BUT consider this, Property and other taxes are going up all over the county now (story coming). That is not a good environment in which to impose a massive new sales tax hike too!

        1. Chris Tauchnitz

          Unless the purchase is in furtherance of the product and/or the business, in which case there is no increase, but a net decrease. If you buy paper for a printer to print invoices they may pay an additional 1% tax on the paper (under GLP plan) and at the same time they own $1M in property; they don’t pay over $600 in PSTA tax. On the other hand homeowners and others will see a significant increase.

          Don’t get me wrong I do not begrudge business I am against this regressive, crony capitalist tax that will do nothing to improve transportation in Pinellas county.

          I have always been and still am a proponent of the fair tax. 1% on all purchases no exemptions…there would be buckets of gov. revenue, and the people would have control.

  3. Mathias K.

    Many years ago, I found myself on a medevac flight from overseas after three years in the US Army, only to spend another year as a patient in an Army hospital. During my time in an evacuation hospital, a medic told me I had not been expected to live. Thus I found myself placed on the Army retired list due to disabilities at the age of 21. After voc rehabilitation and the GI bill, I attained my bachelor’s degree, my master’s and Ph.D., and went on to pursue a successful career, including service overseas in the Far East and Europe. My wife and I decided to retire to St. Petersburg and bought a condominium, at which time I discovered that due to my service-connected disabilities, we had a lifetime exemption from paying the ad valorem tax on our home. One line item in this tax exemption was the PSTA millage. Since public transportation is virtually non-existent in our community, I took little notice of this at the time. Still, it was theoretically a veteran’s benefit and thus a property right.
    Then, for some reason, PSTA decided to substitute a sales tax for this millage. Maybe they found themselves unable to manage their operations on their annual millage—recent scandals over a $350,000 federal grant that had to be returned to the US Treasury, and other management problems leave many doubtful about the stewardship of a “penny earmark” for transit. Needless to say, we will all have to pay this “earmark” tax if it passes, to build a poorly-conceived and poorly planned railroad. The “penny earmark” is an unfair tax—nothing less than the “taking” of an earned benefit from our disabled veterans, first responders, and homeowners—to support the aggrandizement of a county bureaucracy. PSTA should go back to the drawing board and learn how to manage.

  4. DJ

    Just like any other bureaucratic proposal. When it starts to lose money, they will raise taxes again to help subsidies this program! If they ran buses on that direct route now, it would show that this rail is a bad idea!
    Furthermore this tax will kill the real estate market ( property values ) in the county, as well as taking a hit on tourism.
    VOTE NO!

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