Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Pinellas County PSTA Interlocal Agreement Review - Sections 5 and 6

Pinellas County Voters are being asked to approve a law (The GreenLight Plan) that would provide
for an open ended 1% increase in the County sales tax.

You can read a review of the actual law you will approve if you vote yes at Sales Tax (GreenLight) Ordinance Review

Due to pressure from opponents of the Greenlight plan and the Sales tax ordinance, the Suncoast Transit Authority and the Pinellas County Commission found it necessary to develop the Interlocal Agreement before the election to add some direction to how the revenue from the 1% sales tax will be spent and to attempt to add some clarity regarding the suspension of the current PSTA Ad valorem property tax. 

The following document is a reproduction of the Pinellas County Interlocal Agreement with the Suncoast Transit Authority approved by the Pinellas County Commission.

The text of the Agreement appears in italics     My Comments appear in Bold regular text.

The Clerk shall receive the Surtax Net Proceeds from the Department and act as trustee thereof and shall retain all Surtax Net Proceeds in the Transportation System Surtax Trust Fund until disbursed in accordance with the Ordinance and this Agreement. Disbursements of the Surtax Net Proceeds pursuant to the Ordinance and this Agreement shall be made to PSTA by the Clerk within five (5) business days of receipt by the Clerk of the Surtax Net Proceeds from the Department. PSTA reserves the right to conduct an audit of the Surtax Net Proceeds received by the Clerk and distributed to PSTA.

The County gets the funds deposited into the trust fund and has 5 days to move the money to PSTA. PSTA can audit the Clerk.

(A) PSTA (i) will, prior to the Surtax Referendum, continue to acknowledge to the voters of the County that it intends not to impose an ad valorem tax pursuant to the authority granted by its Special Act for Fiscal Year 2016 and thereafter, as long as the Surtax is not repealed and PSTA continues to receive Surtax Net Proceeds, and (ii) agrees to use its best efforts to have its Special Act amended to eliminate its ad valorem taxing authority, effective upon PSTA's receipt of Surtax Net
Proceeds. The County agrees to support PSTA in its effort to so amend its Special Act.

Here PSTA does not AGREE that it will not impose the Property Tax (Ad valorem tax) but simply says it "intends" not too.  Also note PSTA must make this pledge PRIOR to the Referendum, but after the Referendum they can change their mind.

There is also a bit of political hocus/pocus here as the County Agrees to support PSTA as PSTA tries to get the State Legislature to remove their Ad valorem taxing authority.

Since the only real advantage to PSTA is to convince voters they will eliminate the property tax this Section shores up that promise but does not affirm it.

In fact, it is in PSAT's best interest if the ad valorem tax capability stays in place because by all estimates the sales tax revenue will not come close to paying for the construction of the train and its maintenance and operation let alone anything like expanded bus service. 

Remember, what you are reading here is an "Agreement" between Pinellas County and PSTA. It is NOT part of the Ordinance you are voting for, it will NOT become law, it can be changed at any time without your input.

Faced with a financial debacle of the size most of these train projects produce, Pinellas County will quickly agree to return to a property tax for PSTA, before dipping into their coffers to pay for the train.

We will continue with Section 6 tomorrow.

Watch My Video Green Light - It's a Bad Law before you vote.

E-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net. Or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook and Twitter.
Disclosures: Contributor to
No Tax for Tracks.

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