Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Pinellas County PSTA Interlocal Agreement Review - Section 11



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. 

DISCLAIMER:
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.

SECTION 11. FEES, COSTS AND EXPENSES.
(A) PSTA shall reimburse the County for the fees, costs and expenses incurred by the County with respect to all actions relating to the enactment of the Ordinance, the negotiation, execution and delivery of this Agreement and all other matters related thereto through and including the validation of the initial issuance of bonds for PSTA's Greenlight Plan, including, without limitation, the fees and expenses of bond counsel or other outside counsel, its financial advisor, and all similar fees, costs and expenses. The total sum to be paid by PSTA pursuant to this Section 11 shall not exceed the sum of One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000.00). The amount due under this Section 11 shall be made in a one-time payment and is due only upon passage of the Surtax Referendum and after PSTA begins to receive Surtax Net Proceeds in accordance with the Ordinance and this Agreement.

(A) County will get reimbursed for expenses. Note the special emphasis on Bond issuance. Bonds are the key in this effort to get money (sales tax revenue) permanently committed to the rail project.

Note that even though the train effort is not scheduled to begin until the late part of this decade, these bonds will be issued as quickly as possible to eliminate any chance at stopping or controlling train construction as time moves on and the actual costs and facts become clear.

Once pledged to the Bonds, the Sales Tax revenue cannot be used for any purpose other than bond debt service and the use of the bond proceeds are determined in the bond covenants.

If buses are not stipulated in the Bond covenants then those dollars cannot be used for buses.

(B) While any of the Surtax Net Proceeds are being withheld by the County pursuant to Section 9 hereof, all costs and expenses incurred by the County and the Clerk in exercising their obligations hereunder, and the fees and expenses of outside professionals that the County reasonably determines
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Monday, September 29, 2014

Pinellas County PSTA Interlocal Agreement Review - Section 10



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. 

DISCLAIMER:
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.

SECTION 10. OTHER ACTIONS REQUIRING COUNTY CONSENT.
The following actions shall require prior written consent of the County, unless and until the Surtax levy is terminated pursuant to Section 9:

What is interesting here is "consent" is not defined. Who can issue "consent"; the County Attorney, Chairman of the County Commission, County Administrator?

There is no requirement here for the entire County Commission to vote on any "consent" issued.

(A) Any amendment to PSTA's enabling legislation that would amend the membership of the PSTA Board of Directors so as to reduce the percentage of representation of the County on the PSTA Board of Directors to less than thirty-three percent (33%) or that would otherwise be materially adverse to the County hereunder, and that is initiated by PSTA through a vote of its Board of Directors.

In this Section the County assures its 33% presence on the PSTA Board.  The objective is to be somewhat in control.

(B) Any substantial amendment to PSTA's Greenlight Plan.

No definition of substantial. Also note the word amendment. Is a change an amendment? How big a change?

Is dropping the bus expansion substantial? Since the train route will likely be determined by the big YES GreenLight donors, developers and real-estate people, lok for these to be "changes" and not "Amendments".

(C) PSTA's entering into any joint venture or partnership (other than a public-private partnership) or interlocal agreement with respect to PSTA's Greenlight Plan that is materially adverse to the interests of the County.

It would seem here that a public/private relationship that is adverse to the County's interest is OK.

(D) PSTA's debt and investment policies, which shall be provided to the County prior to the distribution of any Surtax Net Proceeds to PSTA hereunder, and any material amendments thereto.

Interestingly this Section calls for the PSTA's investment policy to be submitted to the County but does not state that County approval is necessary only written consent.

 Now you know why the investment houses are lining up to support Greenlight.

(E) Any amendment to the Trust Agreement which would be materially adverse to the County; provided, however, notwithstanding the foregoing, only consent of the County Attorney shall be required with respect to this Section 10(E).

Here the County Attorney, who is not elected, has full authority to give "consent"

PSTA shall provide written notice to the County when seeking approval of any action requiring County approval pursuant to this Section. The County shall either approve or deny the consent
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Sunday, September 28, 2014

State Senator Latvala Jumps on the GreenLight Train



State Senator Jack Latvala throws his support to the GreenLight Yes camp.

Latvala, who some view as the Golden Boy power broker of Pinellas County politics, separated himself from the Pinellas County Republicans who have announced their opposition to the GreenLight Sales Tax Referendum. 

“I like the idea of tourists paying for a transportation system that they use,” Latvala said.

I am sure our visitors will be thrilled to know the Senator doesn't mind reaching into their pockets.

You can read more in Christopher O'Donnell article in the St. Pete Tribune Sen. Latvala endorses Greenlight Pinellas.

The good Senator waxes on about how GreenLight could help keep the Rays, and how it might have been a benefit during the recent Republican Convention.

Never mind the fact that GreenLight provides no link to the airport, no link to Tampa, no link to any convention center and will most likely not be completed before the Rays are long gone.

Latvala is a pragmatic politician. It would appear to me that the Senator has spent more time reading the campaign finance reports and looking at all of those high end contributors than he has reading the Ordinance that he endorsed.

Jack, do you really think we should put a law in place (Ordinance 13- 34) and activate an Interlocal agreement that results in the highest sales tax in Florida, supports bonding and financing that could run for 90 years, to build a train that does not even serve the 2% of Pinellas County residents that actually used public transportation?


Most of the local politicians that have endorsed GreenLight would quite likely have a different view if they had to pass this referendum in their jurisdiction and be responsible for it.

Don't be mislead, get the facts and make an informed decision when you vote.

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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Friday, September 26, 2014

Pinellas County PSTA Interlocal Agreement Review - Section 9



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. 

DISCLAIMER:
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.

SECTION 9. REDUCTION AND TERMINATION OF SURTAX.

This is critical section.

It lays out the conditions for reduction or termination of the sales tax.

Upon the earlier of:
(A) completion of all steps to finance (including without limitation debt incurrence, and/or execution of public-private partnerships or leases), acquire, and/or construct all projects and capital improvements contemplated in PSTA's Greenlight Plan, as mutually determined by PSTA and the County (if the parties cannot mutually determine whether PSTA's Greenlight Plan has been completed, the parties shall engage a nationally recognized transit consultant acceptable to both Parties to make such determination);

Note that (A) provides for payment of debt. Once committed to bonds, the tax cannot be eliminated until the bonds are satisfied. Later we find this Agreement allows those bonds to stay in place for 90 years.

 (B) PSTA's decision to discontinue such steps to finance, acquire and/or construct substantially all of the projects and capital improvements contemplated in PSTA's Greenlight Plan;

(C) the occurrence of a Force Majeure;

(D) the fiftieth 50th anniversary of the date the Surtax is first levied and each 20th anniversary thereafter;

 In (D) a review after 50 years and each 20 year anniversary thereafter. Obviously both PSTA and the current County Commission are expecting this tax to go on for a significant period of time.

Note in (D) the commitment to not with hold funds needed to meet its then outstanding "financial obligations". This is an assurance the that those issuing, maintaining and owning the obligation bonds issued to finance the train will always get their money.

(E) a payment default under the Trust Agreement; or

(F) PSTA applying Surtax Net Proceeds for a purpose other than PSTA's Greenlight Plan,
the County and PSTA shall meet to discuss the particular event described in clauses (A) through (F) that has occurred and shall consider, depending upon the event, revising this Agreement, revising or adding to PSTA's Greenlight Plan, seeking further authorization for additional uses by PSTA of the
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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Pinellas County PSTA Interlocal Agreement Review - Sections 7 and 8



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. 

DISCLAIMER:
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.

SECTION 7. PLEDGE OF SURTAX NET PROCEEDS.
(A) In order to finance or refinance projects, PSTA may issue bonds or notes, enter into lines of credit, incur loans or other indebtedness, enter into concession, lease or similar agreements, and may secure payment obligations under such bonds, loans, notes, lines of credit or other indebtedness or pursuant to such concession, lease or similar agreements with a pledge of and lien on the Surtax Net Proceeds in accordance with the provisions of Section 212.055(1), Florida Statutes, and other applicable law, including any indebtedness refinancing such bonds, loans, notes, lines of credit or other indebtedness. Prior to the initial issuance of any indebtedness by PSTA, the Pinellas County Attorney shall approve the trust agreement or trust indenture (the "Trust Agreement") pursuant to which such indebtedness is to be issued. The County and PSTA agree that it is their intent that such approval be provided by the County Attorney prior to the date of the Surtax Referendum. Notwithstanding the foregoing, PSTA shall at all times comply with its debt policy referred to in Section 10 hereof.

This is the $2.2 Billion Dollar Train Section.

Here the Agreement sets the stage for PSTA to quickly issue obligation bonds and other lines of credit for the Greenlight plan, but mostly for procurement, planning, and construction of the train to nowhere.

(B) Notwithstanding anything herein to the contrary, to the extent permitted by law, in order to effectuate the purposes in PSTA's Greenlight Plan, PSTA may enter into leases or public private
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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Pinellas County PSTA Interlocal Agreement Review - Section 6 Continued



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. 

DISCLAIMER:
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.

Section 6 continues.....
(B) If PSTA elects to impose an ad valorem tax pursuant to the authority granted by its Special Act while the Surtax is being collected and PSTA is entitled to receive Surtax Net Proceeds, the County shall be entitled to reduce the Surtax Net Proceeds distributed to PSTA in the amount of the ad valorem taxes collected by PSTA in each Fiscal Year in which it imposes an ad valorem tax. If PSTA discontinues such ad valorem tax levy, in the County's sole discretion, the County may begin distributing the full amount of the Surtax Net Proceeds to PSTA.

Note that the County is entitled to reduce the funds going to PSTA but they are not obligated to do so. The County cannot cause PSTA to default on any bonds or obligations.

Should PSTA get into financial trouble, which most of these train projects do, then the only options the County has are to bail out PSTA with their funds or allow the property tax to go back into place.

Since these train projects have been known to put Counties on the verge of bankruptcy the County's most logical move would be to agree to put the burden on you the tax payer through restarting the property tax.

(C) Notwithstanding the foregoing or any other provision of this Agreement, in the event PSTA imposes an ad valorem tax as contemplated by this Section 6, the County may take any action it deems necessary and is legally required to permanently reduce the levy of the Surtax; provided, however, the County shall use its best efforts to ensure that at the time any such permanent reduction is made, the reduction shall not exceed the amount of ad valorem taxes collected by PSTA in the immediately prior Fiscal Year.

This one is interesting.

It allows that the County may take any legal action to reduce the sales tax revenue should PSTA implement the ad valorem tax. The referendum, however, sets the amount at 1%. The question is would it take a new referendum to permanently reduce the amount.

The more likely scenario would be that all or most of the sales tax revenue would be pledged to obligation bonds. PSTA would need ad valorem tax revenue to operate. Since the bond pledge is a legal covenant, the County could not reduce or with hold the revenue from the sales tax necessary to meet the bond obligation.

Short form: You the tax payer get stuck with a new property tax and a 1% sales tax.

(D) If PSTA's Special Act is amended to eliminate PSTA's authority to levy an ad valorem tax on real property in the County, this Section 6 shall be of no further force and effect.

Probably not going to happen. The Legislature has already indicated it will not take up the PSTA request regarding property tax relief.

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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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. 

DISCLAIMER:
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.

SECTION 5. DUTIES OF THE CLERK.
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.

SECTION 6. PSTA's AD VALOREM TAXING AUTHORITY
(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
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Monday, September 22, 2014

Pinellas County PSTA Interlocal Agreement Review - Sections 3 and 4



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. 

DISCLAIMER:
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.

SECTION 3. USE OF SURTAX NET PROCEEDS. Notwithstanding any other provision of this Agreement, the County and PSTA agree that all Surtax Net Proceeds, including any interest earnings thereon, and/or proceeds of any bonds, notes, loans, lines of credit or other indebtedness secured thereby, including any interest earnings thereon, shall be expended by each Party only as expressly permitted by this Agreement, Section 212.055(1 ), Florida Statutes, and the Ordinance.

This simply says that the County will receive the funds and send them to PSTA. There are no provisions for the County to spend any of this money. Strangely they don't even get a handling fee.

SECTION 4. DISTRIBUTION AND FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT OF THE SURTAX NET PROCEEDS
(A) Upon receipt, the County shall deposit the Surtax Net Proceeds into the Transportation System Surtax Trust Fund to be held by the Clerk for distribution to PSTA in accordance with the Ordinance and this Agreement

Money comes from you to the Florida Department of Revenue; they take out a small handling fee, and send the money to Pinellas County. The funds are deposited in the Transportation System Surtax Trust Fund.

(B) Unless otherwise provided in Sections 6 or 9 hereof, all Surtax Net Proceeds shall be distributed to PSTA in accordance with Section 5 hereof, to be used by PSTA for the planning, development, improvement, construction, operation, and maintenance of local passenger rail and regional
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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sunday September 21, 2014 My GreenLight Obsession



Someone asked me this week, "Why are you so obsessed with GreenLight?"

I guess it is an easy conclusion to come to if you read my Posts on Patch, Bay Post Internet, and Eye on Tampa Bay that I am focused on the defeat of the GreenLight sales tax referendum. 
                         
The reason I have focused on this issue for the last few months is primarily the lack of mainstream media attention and the type of media attention given to those who oppose the Sales Tax referendum.

The citizens of Pinellas County have been lied to by a PSTA Administration that misused public funds, stonewalled public information requests and publicly denigrated media and citizens who have called them to question.

Social media, primarily Dr. David McKalip, his Blog Sunbeam Times and my Posts are the only places where the Opposition to the GreenLight plan has a consistent voice.

Both local news papers have endorsed the GreenLight plan, but neither has really considered the issue of how GreenLight addresses public transportation for those who need it; nor how the issuing of bonds that could run as long as 90 years will affect this County's economy.

I think their endorsements are more about being on the business side of this issue than the people's side. Probably helps explain why the newspaper business is in such trouble these days.

Obsession?

Possibly.

But we are talking about a Sales Tax referendum that will take hundreds of millions of dollars out of this County's economy for the next 90 years. If you want to see who the real beneficiaries of this plan are there is a list of them at Friends of GreenLight Campaign Reports.

Thank you for almost 20,000 page views in the last few months. You keep reading, Tweeting, Liking and e-mailing these Posts to your friends. I'll keep writing them.

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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