Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Florida county affirms 2014 referendum

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Pinellas County, Fla., commissioners Tuesday approved putting a transit sales tax referendum on the Nov. 4, 2014 ballot. The vote was 5-to-1.

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. 

The 24-mile LRT line, estimated to cost at least $1.5 billion, would connect Clearwater, Fla., serving the Tampa Bay metropolitan area – but not Tampa itself.

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.