The commission still must approve ballot language and pass an ordinance several months before the November vote, however.
The referendum would ask residents to vote on whether to raise the county's sales tax by up to one cent, potentially lifting it from 7 cents to 8 cents in order to pay for major changes to the public transportation system, including a 24-mile light rail transit route. The sales tax, which would bring in about $128 million per year, would replace the property tax that currently funds the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority.
Opponents, including the Florida Tea Party, already have moved to defeat the proposal and have vowed to thwart the plan. Supporters include Suncoast Sierra Club and Connect Tampa Bay.