The ongoing dispute over the future of public transportation in Pinellas County arrives in the Tiger’s Den as Suncoast Tiger Bay hosts a “Green Light or Red Light?” forum in downtown St. Petersburg.
Both sides of the discussion over a Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority referendum set for November will take the stage to answer questions on the best ways of fixing the current transit system — or if it needs fixing at all.
Tiger Bay Board Member Tami Simms moderates the event today, beginning at noon in the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, 11 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg.
County Commissioner Ken Welch, who also chairs the Pinellas County Transit Authority, will discuss the Greenlight Pinellas initiative, a once-cent sales tax proposal to fund public transportation improvements countywide.
If approved by voters, the proposal will replace the current ad valorem transit tax, creating an additional $130 million for the PSTA budget. Existing bus service would increase by 65 percent, and construction will begin on a light-rail commuter corridor between Clearwater and St. Petersburg.
Barbara Haselden, with the group No Tax for Tracks, opposes the Greenlight initiative, and will appear to discuss her concerns with the plan, pointing out that the 1 percent in sales tax represents a 14 percent increase and will make Pinellas County sales taxes the highest in Florida. She contends additional revenue is not the answer, and the problem is actually in managing the existing PSTA budget.