Pinellas County approves transit tax for referendum - FOX 13 News

Pinellas County approves transit tax for referendum

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ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) -

Now it is official: Pinellas County Commissioners have placed the Greenlight Pinellas referendum on the November 2014 general election ballot.

Next up?

"People are starting to ask more detailed questions," PSTA chairman Jeff Danner said. "They kind of see the value of the transit plan, and then they start digging deeper and say okay, what's it going to cost?"

The process to date provides some clues. A chart produced by PSTA compares the current transit property tax on median priced residences to sales taxes incurred by median household incomes, city-by-city [Pinellas has 24 municipalities] and countywide.

In Belleair Beach, where the median home value is $581,000 and the median household income is $79,000 a year, homeowners would save $262 a year by approving Greenlight Pinellas.

However, the chart suggests Largo homeowners would pay $48 a year more if the tax swap passes. Those are the two extremes: Countywide, Greenlight Pinellas would cost taxpayers $14.25 more per year, according to the PSTA chart.

A more reliable figure would come from looking at an actual property tax bill and entering an actual household income figure into the sales tax calculator found at IRS.gov.

Just remember the IRS figure is on a 7% sales tax, so divide the result by seven to get the cost of another penny.

Greenlight Pinellas supporters claim there are additional savings and benefits.

"If you've got a decent transit system and you have the option of eliminating one vehicle, if you have a two or three or four car home, and you can deal with one less vehicle, that's a $10,000 a year savings," Danner said.

The proposed sales tax would generate nearly four times as much revenue for PSTA, affording a passenger rail system and greatly expanded bus service.

"It's about how this affects the community, how the land use changes, how Pinellas County can grow again, rather than decline, because it has no more land to build on," PSTA executive director Brad Miller added.

Under Florida law, public entities such as the PSTA can only "educate" voters. The advocacy for Greenlight Pinellas between now and next November will come from a political action committee now being finalized. Major participants in the PAC include the various chambers of commerce and other business organizations.

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