Pinellas Commission OKs transit tax referendum - WFLA News Channel 8

Pinellas Commission OKs transit tax referendum

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Pinellas County Commission votes Tuesday to approve a referendum for a one cents trasit tax Pinellas County Commission votes Tuesday to approve a referendum for a one cents trasit tax
Pinellas County - A transit plan called "Greenlight Pinellas" is getting the green light. On Tuesday night, Pinellas County Commissioners approved a plan to ask voters for a sales tax hike. The vote was 6 to 1 to put it on the November 2014 ballot. The property tax used for transit would go away. 

Related story: Greenlight Pinellas get on track

The money would greatly expand the current bus system, with new equipment, routes and hours of operation. And later, a light rail system is planned to take riders from Clearwater to St. Petersburg.

A capacity crowd jammed commission chambers. Dozens wearing "try transit" stickers spoke in support. "We're gonna move our tourists around. We want to move people safely. We need to get some of the cars off the road for our environment’s sake," said Suzanne Zeller.

 Opponents, some from a group called "no tax for tracks" told commissioners, Pinellas will have the highest sales tax in the state, and spending money on busses and rail is a waste.  “Why do we have bus system that is so broken, with a budget that is so large? And you want us to quadruple their budget?" asked Dr. David Mckalip.

To show how the new tax would affect your wallet, it all depends on the value of your house. A homeowner in North Reddington Beach would see their $340 property tax bill disappear and would instead, pay an estimated $116 in sales tax. That's a $224 decrease.

A Largo homeowner with a less expensive house would see their tax burden go up by $47 because their property tax is less. Many blasted the current PSTA bus system. One guy noted, you can take a bus to a Rays game, but you can't get home afterward.     If the new tax passes, it would go into effect in January 2016. 

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