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.
acquisition of vehicles
and construction for
light rail transit
-- end of calendar
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
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Disclosures: Contributor to No Tax for Tracks
Disclosures: Contributor to No Tax for Tracks