Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sunday February 22, 2015 Is a Gas Tax to fund PSTA a good idea?

Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb, PhD

Last week, Commissioner Ken Welch, who seems to have never met an opportunity raise a tax for PSTA he didn't like, proposed the County add a 5 cent gas tax which would produce between 16 and 17 million dollars. A portion of the revenue, 3 to 4 million dollars would go to PSTA, the rest going to the transportation trust fund for road and infrastructure improvements.

Since gas prices have been dropping, politicians all over the Country have been eyeing gas taxes as a way to raise revenue. They haven't seemed to notice gas prices are going back up.

Problem is lower gas prices are not a given, and we have already seen what a drag on the economy fuel prices can be. As gas prices start to rise again the thought of adding 5 cents to the price of a gallon of gas for any reason seems a bit impractical.

The problem is the additional gas tax revenue that would actually find its way to PSTA is really quite small compared to the looming budget deficits that PSTA has recently predicted.

Therein lays the problem. Can the public trust the PSTA Administration with their gloom and doom predictions and the PSTA Board?

The PSTA Board has not made a single change in management since the GreenLight defeat. I am not sure how much confidence the public will have in PSTA and its Board until the Board steps up and makes some significant changes.

I for one am not in favor a single dollar more of tax payer money being sent to PSTA until the Board of mostly elected officials has the backbone to replace the CEO, and give a new CEO the authority to build a new senior staff to run PSTA in a professional and ethical manner.

The current PSTA's leadership record of misusing federal funds, lying to the PSTA board and skirting ethics rules is not a record that gives the public much confidence in budget predictions, honesty or fiscal responsibility.

Before Welch or any of his sidekicks, Janet, Long, Dave Eggers and Pat Gerard, start talking about new taxes for PSTA, they need to have an even longer discussion about putting an administration in place, that doesn't lie to them, push the ethical limits of a public organization, and openly break Federal law.

Once those problems are corrected we can look at investing more tax payer money in an organization that respects the public they serve.

It's time to stop hiding behind the "we don't want to disparage anyone" argument. These people have already disparaged themselves and they have admitted it.

I doubt seriously if the infractions committed by the PSTA administration were committed by anyone in any of these board members administrations that they would support the perpetrator and give public votes of confidence.

Before we start pouring in gas tax revenue it's time to clean up the PSTA house.

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