Greenlight Pinellas campaign banks another $37K in May

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Friends of Greenlight, the independent political committee to support the Greenlight Pinellas Plan, posted more than $37,000 in fundraising for May.

According to the most recent financial reports, the PAC raised $37,220 last month, with another $12,575 of in-kind donations, spending $14,969. The organization has raised $530,960 to date.

Twenty-three donations came to the organization from May 1-31 — the two largest being $10,000 checks each from healthcare giant Florida Blue and Tampa–based restaurant chain Bloomin’ Brands Inc., owner of Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill and Bonefish Grill.

Engineering firm Tindale-Oliver & Associates, and direct marketing company Valpak/Cox Target Media chipped in $5,000 each last month, while American Strategic Insurance gave $2,500.

Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce also donated $2,000.

Advocacy group Tampa Bay Partnership contributed administrative services worth $ 12,575.

Friends of Greenlight PAC is the political arm of the effort to influence voters to approve the Greenlight Pinellas initiative in November, centering on a one-cent sales tax to expand public transit options countywide. The new surtax, which rises sales tax rates from seven to eight percent, will replace the current PSTA ad valorem property transit tax.

If approved, the Greenlight Pinellas will boost the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority operating budget to $130 million, and will be used to expand bus nearly 65 percent. Greenlight Pinellas also proposes changes such as express bus lanes as well as a grid system for improved wait times.

Supporters say the improvements will have riders waiting no longer than 15 minutes for a bus.

In the most contested part of the plan, the PSTA would also start construction on a 24-mile light rail commuter line between St. Petersburg and Clearwater Beach.

Opponents of the Greenlight Pinellas Plan — led by the group No Tax for Tracks – also raised $1,420 in May, for a total of $ 31,551.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.