Friday, June 13, 2014

GREENLIGHT PINELLAS SURTAX INTERLOCAL AGREEMENT MILESTONES


Ordinance 13- 34 which voter are being asked to make a law on November 4, 2014 consists of just
over 4400 words. The Pinellas County/PSTA Interlocal Agreement, where the County attempts to get some control over what is spiraling out of control at the PSTA contains over 7700 words.
 
The Pinellas County Legal department which let the Original referendum Ordinance, developed solely by PSTA, slide by with virtually no changes, now sees a major problem.
 
The key fact is this: The Interlocal Agreement it is just that an AGREEMENT. It is NOT a LAW which is what Ordinance 13- 34 will become if approved by the voters.  
If approved this AGREEMENT can and will be ignored or modified to suit the interests of those driving this process, and there will be little the taxpayers can do about it.

A review of the Pinellas County PSTA Interlocal Agreement Milestones
Comments in ITALICS. 
Below is a preliminary look, with my comments, at the AGREEMENT Milestones as the County Commission tries to shore up the requirements that bus service comes before the train. 


THIS GREENLIGHT PINELLAS TRANSIT SURTAX INTERLOCAL
AGREEMENT  ("Agreement")  is  made  and  entered  into  this  day  of  June  2014,  by  and  between  PINELLAS  COUNTY,  a  political  subdivision  of  the  State  of  Florida,  hereinafter  referred  to  as  the  "County,"  and  the  PINELLAS  SUNCOAST  TRANSIT  AUTHORITY,  an  independent  special  district  created  by  Chapter  2000-424,  Laws  of  Florida,  as  amended,  and  a  transportation  authority  for  purposes  of  Section  212.055(1),  Florida  Statutes,  hereinafter  referred  to  as  "PSTA."  

EXHIBIT A MILESTONE SCHEDULE 
  •  Expand  night/weekend  bus  service  spans  across  system  and  increase  service  without  immediate  need  for  fleet  expansion  -- end  of  calendar  year  2016
Note that sales tax collection begins January 1 2016. So no buses are to be purchased, yet revenues go up by $100 million. This change will require additional personnel and fleet maintenance. What else is the money being spent on?
  •  Submit  to  the  Federal  Transit  Administration  (the  "FTA")  environmental  and  engineering  for  BRT/Rapid  Bus  Service  Phase  I  -- end  of  calendar  year  2016
Lots of consultants and consultants to manage the consultants and probably significant increases in PSTA Administrative staff and a lot of salary increases.

  •  Purchase  standard  and  coach  buses  for  increased  frequencies-- end  of  calendar  year  2017 
The sales tax has now been in place for two years and has added an additional $200+ million dollars to PSTA coffers; buses will likely not arrive or be paid for until mid to late 2017. Will these buses be paid for with Sales Tax revenue or will bonds be issues to finance these buses allowing more money for light rail?

  •  Complete  capital  procurement  and  installation  for  BRT/Rapid  Bus  Service  Phase  1  --end  of  calendar  year  2017 
This would likely include bust stops, shelters, signage and a lot of consultants, planners and outside engineering firms to plan the street and road changes. Permission from FDOT and interlocal agreements with jurisdictions affected by the BRT/Rapid Bus Service routes will be required (More Consultants).
  •  Begin  increases  in  midday  bus  service  frequencies  for  frequent  local  routes  and  all  trolleys  and  begin  new  regional  express  service-- end  of  calendar  year  2018
The sales tax has now been in effect for 3 years and added over $300 million to PSTA revenues 
  •   Service  opens  for  BRT/Rapid  Bus  Service  Phase  I-- end  of  calendar  year  2018
No specific goals or objectives in terms of routes, service or frequencies increases. No measurable metrics in this or any of the milestones. Yet the citizens and visitors will have paid over $300 million.
  •  Increase  local  midday  bus  service  frequencies  for  supporting  local  routes  and  North  County  Connector;  begin  circulator  service  and  seasonal  trolley  service  -- end  of  calendar  year  2019
A the end of 2019 sales tax has now been in effect for 4 years and, if all goes according to plan, almost 1 half a BILLION dollars will have been collected.
  •    Submit  to  the  FTA  environmental  and  engineering  for  BRT/Rapid  Bus  Service  Phase  II-- end  of  calendar  year  2019 More consultants, planners and engineers.
  •  Complete  capital  procurement  and  installation  for  BRT  /Rapid  Bus  Service  Phase  I  -- end  of  calendar  year  2020.
This somewhat ambiguous milestone seems to indicate borrowing or issuing bonds (capital procurement)
  •   Submit  to  the  FTA  environmental  and  engineering  for  light  rail  transit  -- end  of  calendar  year  2020
Lots of consultants, engineers, planners etc in this part of the project
  •  Service  opens  for  BRT  /Rapid  Bus  Service  Phase  I  -- end  of  calendar  year  2021
By now PSTA will have collected over $650 million dollars and rapid bus service will just now begin. No estimates of how this money will be spent.  
  • Complete  acquisition  of  vehicles  and  construction  for  light  rail  transit  -- end  of  calendar  year  2023
    It will not be possible to "complete" construction for light rail in the 3 years from 2021 to 2023, so obviously there will have been land acquisition, bond issuing and major construction leading up to this milestone, yet no milestones for these efforts
    are included. 
  • Service  opens  for  light  rail  transit  -- end  of  calendar  year  2024  
Unlikely that this date will hold given the historical trends in this type of rail construction. 

Read the entire Interlocal Agreement at: Pinellas County/PSTA Interlocal Agreement

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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